Trustee Ann Becker said they have a meeting scheduled with Regency and a Kroger representative and she agreed they won’t be as patient this time.
“If they want it they need to move forward,” she said. “No six month deals on this one. We got kind of drug along last time and I’m not interested in that.”
Trustee Mark Welch wouldn’t say whether the trustees are going to be meeting with Regency, but he too said if they do, it’s going to be a short negotiation.
“If I were a betting man, if we did have another conversation with Kroger they probably couldn’t meet my personal demands,” Welch said. “And that personal demand is 10 days, cash, yours, and you figure it out. That’s if there is conversations that would be had, but I’m not going to be dragged back through this thing again. I’d just as soon fix the place up and use it as a true activity community center.”
Ryan Ertel, a consultant for Regency who has been negotiating the deal said he couldn’t discuss it.
The Activity Center is at the center of an ongoing debate amongst the three trustees and a group of seniors who were ousted when the township decided to sell it after the Community First stopped running senior programming in 2019.
The seniors were out in force Tuesday night demanding yet again that the trustees do something to get them a space to gather. Nancy and Jack Williams who have been leading the charge for the seniors told the trustees “the center was closed in ‘19 we have made no progress, none, zero,” she said.
Three options have been discussed, the Activity Center, the Muhlhauser Barn basement and expanding the MidPointe Library to create more space for the entire community.
Becker and MidPointe Executive Director Travis Bautz pitched the county commissioners last week to spend $4 million of its $74.4 million to help build an $8 million addition on the West Chester library branch. The plan includes also using $4 million from the Union Centre Boulevard TIF. So far the commissioners have received about $138 million in ARP funding requests. They have not yet begun to allocate any money.
If the Activity Center isn’t sold, Welch told the Journal-News it would be a more fiscally responsible option for the seniors. He said it would cost far less to renovate the Activity Center than $4 million or more for the library expansion. He said it would require a staffer to manage the building and a non-profit to run senior programs.
“That person would pay for themselves,” he said. “This facility would be for rent just like Muhlhauser Barn is and the seniors would have a place.”
All three trustees have said they are not in the social services business.
“One of the reasons West Chester Twp. works as well as it does is we stay in our lane,” Becker said. “We know what we do best, which is making sure your fires are put out, your emergency services come, the police come when they’re called, we put in infrastructure, that’s our job, that’s what we do, we don’t do social services. We don’t, that’s not our purview.”
When the Journal-News told Williams about the potential Kroger sale she said “we’re going to have to regroup and decide what to do” but added whatever happens the seniors must have a seat at the planning table.