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Gas City moves forward with auditorium plans

AUDITORIUM: The plans for the civic center auditorium are being finalized.

by Grace Hooley - ghooley@chronicle-tribune.com

Gas City Council approved the declaratory resolution for the Olynger expansion and reviewed floor plans for the proposed civic center auditorium Wednesday.

The Olynger expansion is the 7.2 acres that are being added to the tax increment financing (TIF) district for the project. Road construction for Schaffer Drive to connect to State Road 22, which is part of the overall civic center project, will continue as well with the help of a grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

“They took the first step tonight on the financing,” appointed city engineer Ken Smith said of the TIF expansion. “They’ll have another meeting for the Redevelopment Commission to approve the financing. Financing is underway.”

City officials have previously stated the city will seek a bond to fund the approximately $12 million project, with estimated yearly payments of approximately $2 million from TIF revenues. The TIF district currently generates approximately $3 million annually.

On Monday, Nov. 11 at 9 a.m., there will be a public meeting with the Mississinewa Community School Corporation at City Hall to discuss the project and floor plan.

After the approval from Ole Miss, Smith said officials have already started mechanical, electrical, structural and plumbing plans. By Dec. 15, they will have the official set of plans available. Then, they will move onto permission for bidding. Bids will be taken until the end of January, according to Smith.

“The next step is construction,” Smith said.

Planning and Zoning Officer Brad Kline said they have not issued a specific address for the auditorium, but it will be decided in the next few months. For now, they are telling the public the location of the facility will be behind the McDonald’s, right off of Olynger Road.

Mayor Larry Leach said he and his wife visited the new auditorium Brown County is constructing. What they saw was a skeleton of the finished product, but Leach has high hopes for the Gas City auditorium.

“Ours will be more refined and aesthetically more pleasing,” Leach said. “Theirs will eventually.”

Both Leach and mayor-elect Bill Rock said they are pleased with the plans and continuation of this project and what it will do for the city and school corporation.

“Basically, the TIF expansion is bringing the auditorium, and it’s going to be a quality of life for everybody to enjoy, not just only here,” Rock said. “I think it’s just a positive for all, and I think (it’s a) positive way to bring people in or bring new businesses in. So, I’m excited about it. I think it’s way overdue.”

In other business, Gas City water and sewage department head Tim Leach said collecting leaves in the city is going well, but he asked the public not to include sticks in the piles of leaves as it jams the machine they use. He also asked the community not to park their cars on the piles of leaves.

Gas City Police Chief Tim Eckstein reminded the board of works and city council that on Nov. 12, the Gas City police department dispatch will be closing its doors. It will be added to the Grant County Sheriff’s Department dispatch until the new countywide central dispatch is completed.

The 765-674-2278 number will still be available, but it will be for police calls only, Eckstein said. Community members interested in issues such as renting Hontz Hall may call the police department at 765-677-3098, which is the second line. They still encourage dialing 911 for emergencies.

“We want to make sure we don’t call the sheriff’s department unless it’s a police-related or EMS-type emergency,” Eckstein said.