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Posted: 01/22/14

RCS to discuss venture
for new sports facilities

Observer Staff Writer
      Romeo Community Schools is considering a potential partnership that could lead to new facilities for athletics, band and graduations.
       The Board of Education heard from Washington Township and Total Soccer representatives on Jan. 13 regarding a new recreational complex at 30 Mile Road east of M-53 the district could use for athletic activities.
       Washington Township Clerk and Parks and Recreation commission member Kathy Bosheers said the township is in the preliminary stages of creating a recreational center on 13 of 200 acres of property the township purchased. She said the property will become a "recreation sports lifestyle complex."
       "I use the word lifestyles because we've been in contact with quite a few hospitals that are very excited about what we're doing and how to make sure that we have healthy living incorporated into that area," she said.
       The township is working with an architect to conceptualize the center, which could include pools, gyms, tracks, fitness centers and commons areas. She said the center could be a multi-phase construction project that could begin in 2015.
       Debates about annexation between the Village of Romeo and Washington Township caused the latter to consider breaking away from partnerships like Parks and Recreation. Bosheers assured this venture was an effort between Romeo, Washington and Bruce and not Washington going alone.
       "We would like to develop this area for all three communities, that is our goal," she said.
       Bosheers said developing the 200 acres depends on collaborating with the school district and businesses. One such partner is Total Soccer, which plans on using 80 acres to build its fourth sports site.
       Chris McInally, Total Soccer manager, said they have been working with the township since May on their new site's design and location.
       "As we were designing it, the purpose was not only sporting events, but we can do graduations, we can have fundraising parties in there, we can have camps, tournaments," he said.
       Total Soccer's site would have a lighted turf outdoor field, 21 full-sized grass outdoor fields, two full-size indoor football/soccer fields and eight indoor volleyball courts. The indoor facility would be 300 feet by 950 feet, and be located next to the recreation center.
       Other features include a softball and baseball field, a personal training area and parking for roughly 1,000 cars. The indoor facility would open October 2014, while the outdoor uses would begin in spring 2015.
       "It really will be a top-notch facility and a place where athletes would want to come and play," McInally said.
       McInally said the plans could include a 5,000-seat stadium for football, soccer and other sports. He said the school district and township would have to discuss the idea, such as ownership options, leasing or a joint venture between the three entities.
       "There is a desire and I think a need for a stadium," he said. "We need to discuss how to make this happen."
       He said Total Soccer will maintain the facilities and could provide a Romeo theme to the fields and facilities. He suggested the groups meet in the coming month to explore the options further, such as how much the district would like to use the site.
       Board President Ed Sosnoski said he would like to know what exactly Total Soccer and Washington is seeking since sports is a large revenue generator for the district.
       "Unless we fully understand every single cost involved, then I don't think we can make any type of educated decision," he said.
       He said he would like administrators to discuss the details. Board members like Treasurer Gus Demas suggested a committee be formed to address it.
       "This is kind of an outside-the-box type of collaboration, and I think it has the potential," he said. "I think it's certainly worthy of exploration."
       Trustee Anita Banach agreed to head up a committee, saying they could explore involving more people or a possible bond issue.
       "I've made no secret, I would love to see a stadium for our community," she said.
       Discussions regarding the sports complex were held at the board's Jan. 21 meeting. The results were not available as of Observer print deadline.

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