Newbury Township Trustees agreed last week that they will remove themselves from the Newbury Joint Recreation Board in the future, but want to move slowly to allow for a smooth transition to an independent organization.
“We’re not going to pull the rug out from kids that want to play,” Trustee Glen Quigley said last week.
The issue has come to the forefront as Newbury Local School District plans to join West Geauga School District. Trustees and the school’s board of education each appoint members to the 13-member joint recreation board.
“The program is going to continue,” Mr. Quigley said. “It’s built for a reason,” he said of the township’s Oberland Park that provides ballfields for recreation.
Trustee Greg Tropf agreed that the time has come to decide what will become of the recreation board. He said he did not want it to go away, only to be separate from the trustees. He said he supported continuing to provide an opportunity for recreational activities in the township.
“Our goal is to not be involved in the rec board,” Mr. Quigley said.
He said the board should become an independent group, creating its own constitution and selecting its own members. Regardless of the fate of the school district, he did not want to limit opportunities for the children.
Trustees agreed to appoint members to the board to allow for a stable environment for now.
“Right now, it’s just a reshuffling of the deck,” Mr. Quigley said.
He said while it seems almost certain that Newbury schools will transfer to West Geauga, a final decision still awaits on the matter at a Sept. 3 meeting of the Geauga County Educational Service Center. “I don’t know how it’s going to shake out,” Mr. Quigley said. “I don’t know if the school is gone.”
Because the township has provided the dollars to maintain the park, Mr. Quigley said, he would like to see a fee structure set up for use of the park that allows the township to recoup some of its costs.
Mr. Quigley said the township received a $185,000 HUD grant to start the park, crediting the late Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette with helping to get the grant.
He said the township has installed ballfields and a gazebo, while other amenities were provided by the township park board. He said the park board volunteered its time to do landscaping and ran electricity to the park. “The park board does a great job,” he said.
He said the township is currently seeking state grants to install restrooms at the park.
Mr. Quigley said the township hopes to recoup at least some of the townships costs for maintaining the park.
He said trustees will encourage the current recreation board members to reorganize and look to expand the programs and communities its serves. He said the more users at the park will mean the township will be able to recoup more of its costs.
The conversation was prompted by a request from the Geauga Soccer Federation, which offers to provide a $2,500 donation for use of the park.
Stephanie Simpkins, representing the organization, explained to trustees that the group formed with others from Chardon, Burton and Middlefield, because Newbury did not have enough players to have a travel team. She said they didn’t want to continue to have to drive to Mentor to play.
They plan on starting games Aug. 18, she said. Most games will be on Sundays, although some will be played on weekdays, she said.
Mr. Quigley said the group had trustees’ permission to use the fields and assured her he would get in touch with those responsible for lining the fields.