Council discusses stadium lease

TIPP CITY — The Tipp City council met with school officials Monday to discuss the possibility of transferring property at City Park to the schools.

The district has asked the city to consider transferring a portion of the park to the schools just outside the area currently leased by the district. That area would be used to add new locker rooms, concession stands and ticket booths in the future, but it could also be used by the schools in the event the district has to seek a loan to complete the project.

Board president Sam Spano said the district is “exploring its options” and has no plans to seek a loan at this time. The last stadium lease was signed in 2016 for a 40 year term.

Treasurer Dave Stevens agreed, adding that the district is “not anticipating to borrow anything, we’re hoping that the fundraising effort that’s being done by the (Tipp Pride Association) will be able to raise everything that’s needed.”

The district approached council about a ground lease for the property at a council meeting in March. Council members were concerned about what might happen to the property should the school district default on its loan, pointing out that a third party could become the new lessor of the stadium.

“Another option that wouldn’t include a lease purchase is to go to the voters and have them do a bond issue for construction at the park,” he said. “This is just open option to not have to go to the voters because we know it’s important to the voters to do the tax money on education facilities first before we do it on the sports facility.”

Council raised concerns about what could happen to the property if the district were to default on a loan that included the park land. Spano noted that the district has an excellent credit rating and said that scenario would be unlikely.

Councilwoman Carrie Arblaster asked what message the district would send to residents who would see the district exploring funding options for the stadium when the educational facilities are in need of updates.

Stevens pointed out that the board recently approved a lease purchase agreement to perform upgrades to L.T. Ball Intermediate and the middle school, including air conditioning and roofing work.

“We just can’t out enough of a lease purchase to do all of the buildings,” he said. “Our next step is a bond levy to try to work on the elementary levels as well.”

Council President Katelyn Berbach proposed a joint meeting with council and the school board to discuss the issue, although she added that she is not in favor of the proposal. Eggleston agreed, saying it would be beneficial to discuss the future of Broadway Elementary School should the district construct new elementary facilities.

Council also approved a motion allowing Coldwater Cafe access to a public right of way. The restaurant plans to use the alley between its building and the library to set up outdoor dining in good weather. Owner Nick Hoover thanked council for the decision.

Council also authorized participation in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s salt purchasing program for next winter.