September 2, 2014

Elyria
Intermittent clouds
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Huge OK for Avon

AVON – When Chad Brant moved to Avon from Middleburg Heights three years ago, he was upset that there was no public recreation center for his family to use.

“When we got here, we figured we were pretty much out of luck as far as physical fitness goes,” he said.

That will change soon.

Voters passed a 0.25 percentage point income tax increase by 2,171 to 1,557 votes, or 58.2 percent to 41.8 percent, according to unofficial election results.

The tax will raise $1.2 million a year over the next three decades to build a $14.2 million YMCA recreation center and a $6 million to $9 million city-owned stadium.

“We need to get our farm town back to the big leagues,” said Terry Fergus, head freshman football coach at St. Ignatius High School.

“These kids need physical fitness. It will be good for them and get them out of the house,” he said.

Voter Greg Dziak said he`s looking forward to having a new A-level baseball team move into the 3,500-seat stadium.

“The city`s grown enough that it warrants bringing it here, even if it means raising taxes a bit,” he said.

The income tax increase will cost someone who earns $50,000 a year another $125 annually.

The 122-acre site plan includes a 67,000-square-foot recreation center and eventually will feature a Lorain County Metro Parks Splash Zone, ice hockey and skating rink, indoor soccer facility, tennis courts and youth football and soccer fields.

The YMCA has committed to pick up about $5.5 million of the tab and will pay to operate and maintain the site, which will be at Interstate 90 and state Route 611.

Mayor Jim Smith said he hopes the recreation center be an anchor for tourism. Already, he has spoken with hoteliers and restaurant developers about locating near the center.

This week, Smith plans to sit down with those developers, he said. Within the next three to four weeks, he`ll be ready to finalize a contract for the baseball team, he said.

But it will be the residents and the school system that benefit most, he said.

“There`s a need for a rec center,” Smith said. “The people are hungry for something. This is the most economic way we could possibly put it together.”

Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.