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March 26, 2013

MARC advisory team pleads case at Crawford Central meeting

VERNON TOWNSHIP — Members of the Community Advisory Team recently formed with the goal of guiding Meadville Area Recreation Complex into a thriving future took their case to Crawford Central School Board Monday night.

Dennis Finton, a Meadville resident with a long family history of swimming and boys hockey and soccer, led the charge, asking the board to consider including support for the MARC at the  $200,000 level in its 2013-14 budget.

“I have two questions,” Finton told the board. “What is the likely impact on the facility, and the community as a whole, as a result of zero funding? And what is the chance this board of school directors can keep the MARC solvent even for one more year?”

With the community now engaged and leaders in place to sort things out, Finton continued, “given all the years and expense invested, can’t you consider a compromise to help accommodate this difficult task?”

One of the sad realities of the current situation, Finton continued, “is that all the energy up till now has been about cutting. Our group is inspired by opportunities to add more value to the educational experience — or to help the school educate and let the community ‘recreate’ for them.”

Ending with a plea to give CAT “a chance to try and pull this together,” Finton was followed by fellow CAT member Crawford County Commissioner Jack Lynch.

Noting that the group’s genesis was the Town Hall meeting recently convened by members of Meadville Area Recreation Authority, Lynch noted that it was apparent during that meeting that both sides were, as he put it, “talking past one another.”

As for the current situation, “You have something you could not create today,” Lynch said, noting that the group is all about creating a venue for the future. “You cannot underestimate the passion this community has for the facility.”

School board member Richard Curry began his response by saying he was offended — insulted — by the opinion piece written by CAT member Douglas Lang printed in Monday’s edition of The Meadville Tribune. “It appears to have been written by a representative from the MARC,” he said.

Curry urged CAT members to remember that because of budgetary constraints the school district started the current year “short 42 teachers and one building.”

School board member Frank Schreck offered an alternate plan. Because the school district will be paying the city of Meadville $28,000 per year for stormwater management even though it recently spent millions of dollars on stormwater control facilities as part of the renovations of First District, Second District and East End elementary schools, Schreck said, “The City of Meadville will be very magnanimous if it donates this payment to MARC for two years.” Schreck added that no one on the school board or the MARC board “has any desire to close the MARC.”

“I don’t know where we’d get the money for MARC,” school board member Mitch Roe added. “After 40 years, you’d think a business would learn to be self-supporting.”

Roe urged the rec authority to present the school board a bill for services provided to the school district “that’s competitive with other places providing similar services.”

Approximately a dozen individuals with an interest in the topic were in attendance.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mspicer@meadvilletribune.com.

 

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