Recreation building plans, in partnership with Oxford Seniors, move forward

OXFORD – Plans for construction of a new TRI Building are moving toward a fundraising project in a partnership with Oxford Seniors to relocate their activity center in a joint project.

Members of the TRI Board have been considering a new building for several years. That effort was spurred on by the closing of the community swimming pool at their location at the intersection of Fairfield Road and McGuffey Avenue. Likewise, the senior citizens organization has been looking at the possibility of a new facility for some years and the two organizations have come together with plans for a joint community project.

While the TRI Building is associated with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, it is not owned by the city but leased from the organization originally founded in the 1960s as Talawanda Recreation Incorporated. It has been known as “the TRI” since its inception and many people today do not even know what “TRI” stands for, much less their role in the local recreation program.

Talawanda Recreation Incorporated was established in 1966 as a non-profit organization to provide recreation facilities to the citizens of the Talawanda School District.

The effort took a giant step forward two years later when, on Dec. 26, 1968, six acres of land were donated by Arthur P. Goldner, June E. Goldner and Margaret V. Cogan for the TRI facility. Groundbreaking for the building came in 1969.

They plan on constructing a new community building to the west of the existing building, approximately the site of the previous community swimming pool, and when construction is complete, tearing down the old building.

TRI Board President Doug Curry said they have preliminary architectural sketches of a potential new building, but nothing firm as yet.

“We are starting to see the vision of what this could be. The question is what the community is willing to support toward a community center,” Curry said. “The senior center is interested but nothing is finalized. We have talked to some businesses. We keep moving along. It is moving slower than we what we hoped, but the vision is becoming clearer. We are starting to dabble in looking at potential donors.”

He said they want to make it a community center for all ages and varied activities, including sports now housed in the current building as well as seniors and the arts. They anticipate a community room and office/activity space for seniors.

Curry did not want to release the preliminary sketches they have for the project yet but they will be a big part of the marketing effort when fundraising starts.

Missy Burke, a TRI Board member whose focus is marketing, agreed, stressing the possibility of additional amenities as they go public with the plans.

“So much can change. I’m excited about what could be, but there are so many steps,” she said. “We look for people to support the vision.”

Oxford Seniors became interested in the possible partnership with the TRI after discussions of a new senior center location on city property on Brookville Road ceased.

Curry said they had toured several community recreation facilities — including Evendale, Mason and Blue Ash — which incorporated senior citizen activities into them.

Kate Rousmaniere, president of the Oxford Seniors Board of Directors, said their board is in support of the partnership.

“The board is behind this idea. We knew we needed a new and bigger building. When the TRI came to us, it was what we needed,” she said, adding a multi-age opportunity is ideal. “Kids and seniors should share facilities and see each other. It’s exciting. The senior board is very excited.”

Getting a new senior center is one of a series of dominos that would fall within the community to support other seemingly unrelated efforts.

Work is moving forward toward getting an Amtrak stop in Oxford, but that will require construction of a platform for loading and unloading passengers. The plan for that is to build it just south of Chestnut Street behind what is now the Talawanda School District’s Nelson-Morrow Building.

The city has worked an arrangement with the district to take possession of that building and tear it down to make room for the platform. In exchange, the district will be given the current senior citizens building on Tollgate Drive to house the displaced Talawanda offices.

Curry said the proposed new community building will require a comprehensive fundraising effort and more partnerships, including, possibly, selling naming rights.

Rousmaniere said the city’s Comprehensive Plan is expected to include something about a community center, which this project would help fulfill. She also expects it to have a positive impact on the senior center organization.

“We expect it will increase enrollment. Membership is open to those 55 and older and this will offer more things to do,” she said. “It’s going to be great for the community.”

Kris Rose Winkler, a member of the TRI Board who grew up here, said the board is being realistic about the project but also said, “We’re dreamers. We’ve been talking about this a long time.”

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