The old city park on Railroad Street is set to be developed into a new youth sports facility, which will include an indoor basketball court, outdoor hoops and a proposed skate park.
During its December meeting on Monday, Hillsboro City Council gave emergency approval to a resolution transferring portions of the city park property to Hillsboro’s community improvement corporation (CIC) in preparation for construction of a roughly 50-by-100-foot sports building there.
Tirrell Cumberland, a local basketball trainer who coaches young basketball players at the old Warren Furniture warehouse on Muntz Street, will build the facility to house a basketball court so he can expand his services.
Property Maintenance and Restoration Committee Chairwoman Ann Morris said Cumberland has had as many as 60 basketball students at the warehouse, and he believes he could double that number if he had a larger facility.
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said the legislation, which was recommended to council by tMorris’ committee, will allow Cumberland to build on the property.
“The plan is for us to help him through the CIC put together his business plan and then take that to a local bank or our revolving loan fund, and get him the financing to get the building built,” Hastings told The Times-Gazette. “Tirrell will have the same responsibility that anybody who buys property or has a mortgage would. He’ll make payments, and there will be a lien on the property until he pays it off.”
Hastings told The Times-Gazette that the building will be constructed where the old tennis courts are currently located, leaving room for outdoor basketball hoops and a proposed skate park.
Hastings said he looks forward to the project being completed.
“I think that’s a good location,” he said. “I think it will work well with the existing basketball courts and the proposed skate park… And it kind of rejuvenates the area.”
Morris said she and Cumberland discussed the possibility of the facility hosting after-school tutoring programs and other activities.
“It kind of gives (children) a home base after school,” she said.
The land is set to be surveyed for new construction.
In other business, council approved another emergency measure transferring city property on Homestead Avenue to the CIC so it can be sold to PAS Technologies.
According to Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie, who introduced the legislation, PAS plans to begin an expansion project in early 2018, which will utilize un-developed city property between PAS’s current facility and the Highland County Homeless Shelter.
McKenzie said the expansion will create an estimated 25 skilled jobs.
According to McKenzie, PAS will buy the property from the economic development corporation for $50,000, and Tax Increment Financing will be used to divert property tax revenue generated by the expansion back into the area.
McKenzie, along with other officials and members of the public, welcomed new Hillsboro Police Chief Darrin Goudy to the community. Goudy, who was in attendance, said he and his family plan to stay in Hillsboro for years to come, and thanked community members for welcoming them to the area.
In public comments, several people in attendance expressed dissatisfaction with the city’s traffic lights, particularly at intersections where side streets meet state and U.S. routes.
McKenzie said the city has little control over traffic lights on those routes, but added that the state has conducted traffic studies here and plans to re-evaluate traffic patterns soon.
In his report to council, Hastings said he had pulled from consideration legislation on Downtown Redevelopment Districts, a new economic tool that did not receive the required approval from the Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education to be utilized here under Hastings’ plan, which would have included 15 and 20 year time frames. A 10-year time frame would not have required school approval, but Hastings said previously that 10 years was not a sufficient commitment.
Hastings also thanked exiting council members for their service to the community.
In the safety and service director’s report, McKenzie said masonry walls being constructed on either side of the former Colony Theatre space will be completed in the next few weeks.
McKenzie also said state funds have been requested to pay for a number of projects in the city, including rehab of the Gross-Feibel property, the Moberly Branch trail and a pathway connecting Schaffer Park to Liberty Park.
A road-widening project on Harry Sauner Road at North High Street is also set to begin in 2018, according to McKenzie.
McKenzie noted that city maintenance and infrastructure repair has become more demanding in recent weeks, and city crews have been fixing water line leaks due to rapid freezing and thawing.
“Please bear with us, as repairs are being made as quickly as possible,” McKenzie said.
Hastings reported that the Hillsboro Planning Commission met Nov. 20, discussing the creation of a “master plan” for the city. Hastings said the city will hire an intern from the University of Cincinnati to assist in the planning process.
Hastings said planning commission member Tom Eichenger expressed to the group his disappointment that the Downtown Redevelopment Districts could not be implemented, saying it was a “sad day in Hillsboro.”
Hastings also said the commission discussed the Highland County Land Bank, which has been “stalled” at a federal level due to recent changes in the law.
In other business:
• In the Civil Service Committee report, Chairman Bill Alexander said changes continue to be made to the city’s Civil Service Manual. Alexander said the completed document will be presented to council once it is finished.
• Council members Alexander, Tracy Aranyos, Dick Donley and Rebecca Wilkin said farewell Monday night to their constituents and fellow elected officials as they depart from their council seats.
• During the auditor’s report, Hillsboro Auditor Gary Lewis thanked city supervisors and council members for their part in creating the 2018 budget.
• Council also heard readings on a number of financial resolutions, as well as the first reading of a resolution for the city to join the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, as reported in Tuesday’s Times-Gazette. Council also approved the 2018 operating budget, as previously reported.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.