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No new complex for Spring Garden Twp.
After several months of hearing negative reactions, the Spring Garden Township Board of Commissioners voted to cease work on a proposed new municipal complex at 1799 Mount Rose Ave.
At the start of Wednesday's meeting, board president Eric M. Lehmayer read a statement saying that the negative feedback toward the plan showed him that it was not the best decision for the township.
Board vice president Thomas Warman proposed ceasing all development of the complex, which was seconded by commissioner Cara Zortman. The motion passed 4-1, with Commissioner Matthew Shorb voting against it.
"It's been clear over the past few months, through your actions — I had to make a stand," Lehmayer said to the 100-plus crowd at the meeting after reading his statement.
The complex has been a source of contention for residents, many of whom claimed it wasn't necessary and would be too costly for them.
The decision was met with applause from the crowd gathered at the meeting.
"Obviously, the voices of the people were heard," resident Sean Clark, an organizer of Friends of Spring Garden Township, an activist organization, told the board. He had intended to share grievances of those opposed to the plan, but because of its demise, he didn't have to.
Lehmayer said to the crowd he would like to look at other options for the current municipal building and the Mount Rose Avenue land.
Turnout: About 100 concerned citizens once again went to the Spring Garden Township meeting to express dissatisfaction with the proposed municipal complex. So many people showed up that the meeting venue had to be moved to the Victory Fire Co. fire hall to accommodate the change.
Additionally, the start of the meeting was pushed back 45 minutes to allow residents adequate time to travel to the fire hall.
After Lehmayer shared his thoughts on the plan, many people took to the microphone to talk about the complex. A lot of thoughts varied.
Many people spoke in favor of canceling the plans, while a few mentioned they would have liked the complex. One idea that came up frequently was renovating the police department building or building a new one.
Others said they would like it if, whatever comes next, the commissioners involve the community more. Shawn Schlenz, who spoke out against the plans at the previous meeting, told the board he hopes they keep the residents involved.
"It would make it a little easier for us to voice our concern," he said.
The axed plans: The plan was to develop a municipal complex at the former United Dye Works property, a 56-acre parcel at 1799 Mount Rose Ave. that the township owns.
In September, township officials contracted an architectural firm to design a municipal complex that would consolidate its administration, police and recreation services in one location.
A preliminary design presentation showed that the calculated millage increase for the campus with a gymnasium would be 1.132 mills, or 0.880 mills without a gymnasium, according to a FAQ about the complex.
The cost to an average homeowner of a property valued at $171,000 would be an additional $194 per year, or 53 cents a day, if the gymnasium were included in the plan, according to the township website. Without the gym, it would cost an additional $151 per year, or 41 cents a day.
The preliminary designs for the complex can be found here.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.