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Upper Arlington Community Center Ballot Issue – Your Vote Counts on May 4

The election is just over one week away. If you have not yet had a chance to learn about the community center question that is before UA voters, please take a few moments today to learn about this important issue. And please vote on May 4!

Here’s a summary of what is proposed.

City Council formed the Community Center Feasibility Task Force in the summer of 2019, in response to residents continued interest in an Upper Arlington Community Center. After an extensive 18-month study process, the task force concluded that it is feasible for the City to construct, operate and maintain a community center, with the former Macy’s site at Kingsdale identified as the preferred location.

In response to these findings, City Council placed this issue on the May 4, 2021 ballot and authorized various funding mechanisms that will enable the City to construct a community center without any increase in City income or property taxes if the community center issue passes.

What’s Proposed
The feasibility study was extensive, with great focus placed on community engagement, transparency and detailed financial analysis. As a result, the City has a realistic and achievable roadmap for constructing, operating and maintaining the proposed Upper Arlington Community Center.

The facilities and programming plan for the community center are a direct result of the input gathered early in the study.

  • It will serve as the central community gathering place for events and celebrations that residents have asked for.
  • It will provide fitness, wellness, health and leisure opportunities for all ages and interests.
  • It will give our seniors new space that is designed specifically to meet their needs, plus access to many new programming opportunities.
  • It will be affordable, through a combination of tiered membership levels, daily passes, rental fees and program fees.
  • A scholarship fund will be built into the operations budget, to assist residents facing financial barriers to participation.

The Facilities Concept

  • Level 1 – entry/lobby, indoor pool, multi-purpose event/party space, locker rooms
  • Level 2 – fitness/exercise spaces
  • Level 3 – 3 gymnasiums (1 multi-purpose), adventure play, teen space, child watch
  • Level 4 – Walking/running track overlooking gymnasiums
  • Level 5 – Senior program, shared classrooms, event hall/ meeting space, outdoor multi-purpose terrace
  • Levels 6 & 7 – Income generating office space, a majority of which is expected to be leased by a high-quality healthcare provider that will partner with the City to enhance health and wellness services at the community center

Financial Highlights

  • It will cost approximately $54 million to construct – the construction budget includes a 23% contingency to make sure final costs fall at or below this estimate.
  • Construction can be funded without an increase in City income or property taxes – the funding plan includes a combination of existing City reserves, private donations and the issuance of long-term debt. The debt will be repaid with revenues generated by the Kingsdale Mixed-Use TIF District, hotel/motel tax revenues, plus rent and income taxes generated by the two floors of office space.
  • It will be operationally sustainable – a detailed business operations model projects full cost recovery, with the current $530,000 Parks & Recreation programming subsidy greatly reduced or eliminated. A “stress test” model was also created in anticipation of down years (recession, pandemic, etc.) – under this model the subsidy needed to support operations would increase by approximately $250,000.
  • The budget includes a capital fund set aside – to cover ongoing maintenance and equipment replacement needs.

Ballot Issue Webpage
Visit our Community Center Ballot Issue webpage for additional details about the proposed community center issue, including a preview of the ballot language, conceptual renderings, insight on how the community center would be part of the Kingsdale Mixed-Use Project, plans for the office space, answers to frequently asked questions and more. A virtual tour of the proposed facility can be viewed here too.

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