Old Hillsboro water plant might become site of sports complex


Youth basketball program may purchase; council talks Colony, sidewalks, parks

By David Wright - dwright@aimmedianetwork.com



Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings, standing, addresses those in attendance at a Monday meeting of Hillsboro City Council, including safety and service director Mel McKenzie, seated in the foreground.


David Wright | The Times-Gazette

The old city water plant property may soon be the site of a new youth sports facility, following a vote by Hillsboro City Council to transfer the property to the Hillsboro Area Economic Development Corporation.

Council suspended the three-reading rule and passed the resolution as an emergency.

Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said during the mayor’s report that he has had several conversations with Tirrell Cumberland of TC3 Basketball Skills and Development, a local youth basketball program, regarding the possible development of a new sports facility on the property.

In an interview with The Times-Gazette, Hastings said there’s still some land development that has to be done before the site is ready for construction, since a portion of the property sits lower than the rest.

After that, Hastings said, the city will build a “finished warehouse structure” and arrange for Cumberland to buy it.

“The plan is still there, it’s just not moving as fast as it could in the private sector, which is always frustrating,” Hastings said. “It’s still up in the air as to exactly how we would do it, but it would be something that’s workable for all of us. What we would probably do is arrange to build it with an agreement to sell it to him, then he gets financing or we help him get financing.”

Hastings said the structure will be big enough to house an entire basketball court.

“It would have a large open span that’s suitable for a sports facility,” he said. “For his kind of operation, you have to have no poles and you have to have a high ceiling… There are many buildings standing around here that he could lease or buy, but you need high ceiling heights and an open span, so you almost have to build a completely new one.”

The two-acre plot sits just north of the Hillsboro Water Treatment Plant on U.S. Route 62.

Also Monday, Property Maintenance and Restoration Committe chair Ann Morris said her committee met recently to discuss options for the Colony Theatre space, and said a variety of good ideas were presented. Morris said many agreed a steel and iron facade should be constructed to mimick the old marquee with an open-air pocket park beneath it.

Morris also said those in attendance agreed murals on either side would be a good idea as well.

During the safety and service director’s report, Hillsboro SSD Mel McKenzie said he has investigated weatherproofing the walls on either side of the space left by the demolition of the Colony, and determined that a stucco-type face for the walls would be the most cost-effective solution.

McKenzie said the surface will look smooth and have a sand-paper-type texture that will be paintable.

At Morris’ request, president of council Lee Koogler removed the matters of design review board issues and changing the Liberty Park veterans memorial from the committee. Morris said City Law Director Fred Beery determined changing the veterans memorial should be resolved at McKenzie’s discretion.

Street and Safety Committee Chairman Justin Harsha said his committee recently discussed parking for semi trucks after K-Mart prohibited semi parking in its lot on North High Street. Harsha said there’s little the city can do to solve the problem.

Hastings said if the old Gross-Feibel building is torn down, that area could be used for semi parking.

Council member Claudia Klein, who first raised the issue, said she estimates 10-15 truckers per night are affected.

At Harsha’s request, Koogler removed from the committee the matter of a John Street property belonging to Jennifer Reed.

Hastings said in his report that negotiations are still underway for the sale of the North East Street fire house to Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, and that city officials will meet with bond attorneys in Cincinnati in coming days to structure a deal.

According to Hastings, interested parties in a downtown redevelopment district concurred at a recent meeting that an administrator for the district should be pursued. Hastings said he has had some meetings on the matter.

Hastings said he attended a ribbon cutting for Adena Health Network’s new rehab facility on Harry Sauner Road, and said the facility is a step in the right direction for getting local citizens medical services closer to home.

Hastings also said progress is being made regarding the inception of a skate park in Hillsboro with the help of local skater Pietro Cartaino.

During the Finance Commitee report, chairman Dick Donley said a Property Maintenance and Restoration subcommittee may be a good forum for discussion of local parks, specifically the possibility of a skate park. Koogler placed the matter in the property maintenance committee.

Hastings also thanked Eleanor Cumberland for her part in renaming Curtis Lane.

At the end of his report, Hastings asked to go into executive session to discuss “a rather timely matter” regarding real estate acquisition for city use, inviting Hillsboro Planning Commission Chairman Tom Eichinger and city auditor Gary Lewis to attend.

After about an hour of executive session at the end of the meeting, council took no action.

McKenzie said street crews have run into a few issues while paving North High Street, but the project continues and should be finished in two or three weeks.

Bids have been submitted for the North High Pathways sidewalk project, and contracts will be awarded soon, McKenzie said, and it’s anticipated the project will be completed within about a month after contracts are awarded.

McKenzie also addressed concerns from citizens regarding sidewalks on South High Street, since some have complained that the city is arbitrarily charging property owners for unneeded sidewalk replacement. McKenzie said Ohio Revised Code allows municipalities to do so, and said that while he understands there are other sidewalks that need attention, “We’ve got to start somewhere.”

Hastings said during the Hillsboro Planning Commission report that the commission revised the plat of the former Mother Thompson house property to contain two lots instead of six, and determined that a possible housing development from the local Board of Developmental Disabilities would have to be zoned Residential B or higher since it would contain five bedrooms and five bathrooms and the occupants would pay rent. Hastings also welcomed newcomer Rob Holt to the planning commission.

During public comment, uptown business owner and Hillsboro Uptown Business Association President Joe Mahan said he feels discussion regarding the creation of an uptown entertainment district has been stalled in council’s Community Enhancement Committee for some time. Mahan said such a district is “not that hard to establish,” and distributed a report to council on the matter.

Council president Lee Koogler said there are some challenges that could surround the issue, such as size restrictions, but said the committee would take a closer look at the matter within the next 30 days.

Also during public comment, Neil McKenzie, who is not a Hillsboro resident, said he feels there’s a need to revitalize city parks, specifically the Washington School park, and suggested inmates from the Highland County jail could assist in cleanup activities. McKenzie also offered his time and resources for park improvements.

Council also voted unanimously on the following matters:

• A first reading on a resolution to increase appropriations in the Street Fund in the amount of $269,000 for the North High Pathways project.

• A third reading on an ordinance modifying requirements and penalties for the safety and service director, and an ordinance amending Hillsboro city code to provide for off-street loading and parking spaces for new structures.

• Approved the closing of an alley on West Pleasant Street, as well as two sign variances for Kroger and Southern State Community College’s Patriot Center.

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.

Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings, standing, addresses those in attendance at a Monday meeting of Hillsboro City Council, including safety and service director Mel McKenzie, seated in the foreground.
http://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/08/web1_citycouncil081517.jpgHillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings, standing, addresses those in attendance at a Monday meeting of Hillsboro City Council, including safety and service director Mel McKenzie, seated in the foreground. David Wright | The Times-Gazette
Youth basketball program may purchase; council talks Colony, sidewalks, parks

By David Wright

dwright@aimmedianetwork.com