By Melanie Yingst
TROY — Troy City Council members made their opinions of which aspects of the Riverfront Development project public as they shared their views on the proposed $10 million renovations of Hobart Arena and Treasure Island park and marina with Troy Daily News.
All council members support the “Option 2” for the $10 million renovations, yet some believed certain areas should be left out or included in the project. “Option 2”dedicates approximately $2.8 million to Treasure Island Park and the Marina. The Marina renovations are estimated to cost $1 million of the project. “Option 2” includes $7.2 million in updates to the Hobart Arena building with the exception of the proposed second sheet of ice and long-term renovations.. Many council members requested the second sheet of ice option, estimated at $4 million, to be part of a more in-depth study of economic impact and feasibility for fiscal year 2015 at the workshop last week.
According to the city auditor John Stickel, the city could pay approximately $640,000 per year for 25 years for the project if the $10 million project was approved.
Council members Lynne Snee, Doug Tremblay, Tom Kendall, John Schweser and Brock Heath support all three areas of the Riverfront Development project proposal.
Council member Alan Clark indicated he only supports the Hobart Arena portion of the project.
Council member Bobby Phillips supports the Hobart Arena portion of the project with the additional ticketing booth area which was part of the long term improvement list. Phillips indicated that he also supports the marina renovation, but not the Treasure Island improvement part of the project.
Council member Bill Twiss indicated he supports the Hobart Arena improvements with the exception of the scoreboard improvement. The estimated costs of new scoreboards was estimated at a cost of $500,000.
Council member Robin Oda was not present at the council workshop and was not part of the survey that was conducted.
Troy Daily News asked each council members to submit their opinions on which part of the project they liked, disliked and how it will affect the city of Troy and its financial future and services.
Each council member also was asked “If the city of Troy can afford to spend $640,000 a year on the Riverfront Development Project, how can you, as council members, justify the budget cuts for other services such as police/fire and other city services and staff?
Council members Lynne Snee, Tom Kendall, Doug Tremblay and John Schweser responded to the request as of press time.
Below are their responses:
How did you arrive at the choices you selected on the workshop sheet?
“As a friend reminded me a few weeks ago, this is what government is supposed to do,” Schweser said. “I look at downtown Troy and wonder if we would not have the vibrant, active, alive downtown had we not spent the money on the streetscape. Today restaurants have lines on Friday and Saturday nights to get in. Even through the week downtown is busy with patrons enjoying great dining experiences. Downtown Troy has become a destination for much of southwest Ohio.
“I am excited to see what develops in the future along Elm Street from the Riverfront project we are discussing today,” Schweser said.
Kendall said, “I truly believe in supporting quality-of-life opportunities in our city and region. Without improvements you run the risk of becoming non-attractive as a location for businesses to consider, becomes more difficult in attracting and keeping a high quality workforce and discourages the promotion of Troy as a destination community.”
Snee said, “Troy is blessed with a wonderful natural resource – the Great Miami River – that offers many opportunities for our citizens. In the past, citizens of Troy have added infrastructure along the river to provide recreational opportunities and gathering places for citizens and visitors. I think it is now our responsibility to maintain that infrastructure (improving things where possible) to provide those opportunities for future generations. That is why I am in favor of the improvements proposed for Hobart Arena, Treasure Island and the Treasure Island marina building.”
Tremblay said he made his decision based on the auditor’s recommendation of the $10 million bond which allowed for all the immediate and short term suggestions of the project.
What kind of feedback have you heard about the Riverfront Development Project.
Kendall said he has heard some negative feedback in regards to the project, yet “I have heard some negative, however the positive comments outweigh the negative by a factor of at least 10 to one.”
Schweser said, “Ninety percent of the comments are positive. Parents are looking for different ways to get their children outside and are looking forward to canoeing and kayaking on the river.”
Tremblay said he has not received much feedback about the project, but has had requests for more explanation of the Riverfront Development concepts.
“I do not believe we have seen the full potential of Treasure Island (both the marina building and the park area), but I have heard from many people who believe that this area, as with other places that have been improved along the Great Miami River Corridor, will be a huge draw for Troy,” Snee said.
If the city of Troy can afford to spend $640,000 a year on the Riverfront Development Project, how can you, as council members, justify the budget cuts for other services such as police/fire and other city services and staff?
Kendall responded to the financial aspect of the project, stating, “Obviously we need to balance all aspects of financially managing our community. Part of this management is continuing investing in projects that presents our community with ways to make money.”
Snee also addressed the financial planning of the project and its impact on the city budget.
“As we have with this project request, City Council will continue to review budget requests from all city departments each year and make decisions about provision of services, infrastructure maintenance and construction, quality of life initiatives and programs to benefit all of our citizens that will make Troy the great place it is to live,” Snee said.
“These projects are expensive, but there will be continuing expenses at these facilities, even if we do not take this opportunity for renovations. Pursuing these projects now, while financing is favorable, will mean that we have a chance to enhance these facilities in order to provide economic development opportunities that will benefit our city,” Snee said.
Tremblay said city council has “authorized increased help for the police department and are attempting to supply help to the fire department. The other departments are consulted annually at budget time ” in regards to financial impact of the project on the city’s budget.
Schweser said, “We are not cutting police and fire. We are adding six police officers over the next few years and 24 part time class 2 fire fighters/EMTs. The additional firefighters will allow many home owners to enjoy reduced insurance rates.”
What part of the project piques your interest the most? Why?
Schweser said, “Ken Siler and his staff have done an outstanding job with Hobart Arena. I believe that they have squeezed the most entertainment and value to the citizens of Troy they can out of the existing building. The Hobart enhancements will give Ken and his staff a lot more flexibility in booking shows.”
“The Treasure Island project will be first and foremost a terrific gathering place for young families from the area who want to access the river. I also see it as a destination for people who utilize the bike path and are looking for a place to stop and rest. Just like our other great parks, this will offer a unique place for for families to gather and have a great outdoor experience,” Schweser said.
Snee said, “Hobart Arena has proven, under its competent management team, to be a workable venue for many different types of events. In order to maintain its usefulness for the future, upgrades are needed.”
“We have to recognize that economic development it is much more than just brick and mortar, it’s getting business to see our total package and how we help them maintain a work force they have invested in,” Kendall said. “Second, what this will do in making Troy a destination, which helps local restaurants, retail business and other support businesses.”
Tremblay also stated that he wants to equip Hobart Arena staff to compete with other venues in the area. Tremblay also stated he believes the marina needs to be renovated to become a “positive influence in Troy.”
“Doing nothing would be a huge mistake,” Tremblay said. “Treasure Island, as it exists today, is not inviting or very usable. With the improvements, it will be both inviting and usable. These improvements will attract visitors to Troy who will spent money and residents who will pay taxes.”
What are the major concerns you have surrounding the project? The river quality? Return on investment of Hobart Arena? Maintenance? Please share.
Schweser said, “With the improvements staff and the consultants are suggesting there should be no maintenance issues for many years to come. I go back to the streetscape project for downtown Troy. We have a return on investment by having our store fronts occupied, customers eating in our fine restaurants, shopping our unique stores and enjoying the entertainment.”
Schweser said the businesses of Troy enjoy the city’s return on investment when people visit the city.
“We have a return on investment when our hotels are all rented out and every eatery is filled when the Soccer Tournament brings 300 teams with their families to town. We have return on investment when the golf course brings golfers from all over the Miami Valley, on a daily basis, to play the Shores and eat when they are done. I am talking about the ripple effect from these and other quality of life amenities we enjoy in Troy,” Schweser said. “Treasure Island and the Marina will be no different. The corridor on Elm Street from Main Street to the city line will grow and develop once the river scape is completed.”
Tremblay said, “The project will keep the cost of operation of Hobart Arena low and bring more money to the Troy economy. Likewise on the marina and Treasure Island. I think this is a great way to spend $10 million on Troy. I think that all of our development projects and services are having a positive influence on Troy.”
Kenddal said he has no major concerns regarding the Riverfront Development project.
“We are working with knowledgeable people and experts in their fields,” Kendall said. “In fact a few years ago when the University of Dayton River Stewards did a Kayak float from Indian Lake to Dayton, part of their study was to check water quality of the river along the route. Their finding from Troy was that the water from the river was of high quality and drinkable. They proved this by drinking river water there one day stay in Troy.”
Melanie Yingst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews