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Rec center of attention
Borough council discusses public funding of facility
Throughout the years, the Lititz recCenter’s place in the community has grown. So, too, has its footprint.
With another expansion in the works, some residents are questioning to what degree public funds should go toward supporting it.
At Tuesday evening’s Lititz Borough Council meeting, members were briefed on the latest status of the plans. They also unanimously approved an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the borough and the recCenter to manage the Lititz Springs Pool.
Local resident John Peffer along with Tim Diem, owner of Tim’s Fitness Center, were present for the meeting and raised questions about growth plans. Peffer expressed what he said was a view held by others that perhaps the time had come for the recCenter to stand on its own without the need for public funds from municipal governments.
“A lot has changed in 50 years,” said Peffer. “I think borough donations should go to groups that benefit all residents equally, such as the library, fire company or rescue squad. It might be time to re-evaluate.”
For the past 32 years, Diem has been the owner and operator of his fitness business. He made it clear that his questions of board members were not intended to be confrontational or disrespectful.
“I don’t question whether or not they do good,” stated Diem. “I’m not sure what their mission statement is. I’m just saying that I feel they should be able to support themselves.”
Echoing Peffer’s sentiments, Diem added, “I feel those funds could go to the fire company and everybody would benefit.”
The recCenter is situated on land owned by the borough which is part of a 99 year lease agreement.
Council member Shane Weaver pointed out that the borough has actually scaled back the size of its annual donation to the recCenter over the past two years. He explained that as the borough has needed to spend money on playground equipment at several borough-owned parks, council offset the cost of the new equipment by reducing the size of its rec contribution.
According to borough manager Sue Ann Barry, the borough donation has been cut by $10,000 over the past two years. The borough donated $37,500 in 2012, and $27,500 in the current budget.
Council President Karen Weibel agreed that it was not the first time that council had heard such concerns, but stressed a point of view that the recCenter did benefit all residents. She added that scholarship programs are available for any Lititz borough resident who would like a membership but cannot afford one. Peffer said he had known people who were denied such scholarships. Weibel was adamant about wanting to hear about it if it happened again.
Regarding the MOU, the borough has always managed the Lititz Springs Pool. This year, however, council members unanimously agreed to contract with the recCenter to oversee the pool facility for the 2014 swimming season.
In other borough council news, members agreed to throw its support behind a growing effort in Harrisburg to allow local police agencies to use the same radar used by state police to enforce traffic speed.
“For longer than I have been a police officer we have been asking for radar,” police chief William Seace told council members. “This is as close as it has ever come to happening.”
With its resolution, Lititz Borough became the latest local municipality to throw its support behind the effort. Weibel told council that the bill is still sitting in the PA House of Representatives but was moving through committee in the Senate.
Mayor Tim Snyder added that the PA Mayors Association was also in support of the measure.
“I’m not sure what the opposition to this would be,” added Weaver.
Seace agreed. He said the use of radar just made sense, since it was easier to operate and could be used without the need for two or three people as is the case with speed control equipment, which requires a monitor along with one or two chase vehicles. With radar, all speed control functions can be handled by a single officer.
Gary P. Klinger is a freelance reporter who covers the Lititz Borough and Warwick Township municipal beats for the Record Express. He welcomes your feedback via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter at www.twitter.com/gpklinger.