Piqua Commission holds open forum


By Aimee Hancock

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PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission held its second outdoor town meeting/open forum event Wednesday evening downtown near the gazebo.

Topics of discussion included plans for the Piqua municipal pool and the recently-proposed Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA). Around 15 residents were in attendance, and the event was livestreamed and archived on the city’s Facebook page.

Public Works Director Brian Brookhart gave a brief update regarding the now-closed public pool, sharing the findings from the recently-completed feasibility study by Brandstetter Carroll Inc.

The study presented three proposals for the city to consider, including a refurbishing of the existing pool and pool house structure for an estimated cost of $2.5 million; an option to completely renovate the facility, which would include a new pool and lazy river, for an estimated cost of $6.4 million; and a third option to build an entirely new aquatic facility for an estimated cost of $7.4 million.

During a Piqua City Park Board meeting held last month, the board reached a consensus that its main goal is to have a new pool constructed at some point in the future, with a more immediate recommendation to have the existing pool and facility demolished. This recommendation was passed on to the city commission, whose members will ultimately make all final decisions as to the fate of the pool.

During Wednesday’s open forum, Brookhart and City Manager Paul Oberdorfer fielded questions from attendees regarding the pool, with one resident expressing concern that a new pool facility may never bring in enough revenue to break even financially given the feasibility study’s estimate that the pool would need to attract around 39,000 visitors to do so.

“In terms of whether or not the pool would ever break even, I can tell you from experience that even in cities that have multiple pools, rarely do they break even,” Oberdorfer said. “Typically, they subsidize them a certain percentage, and in a busy season, it’s around 12 to 15% subsidies, or if you have a really bad season, it could be half the operating cost.”

Oberdorfer said he’s been working on a new survey to collect additional feedback from residents now that the feasibility study has been published on the city’s website. He noted that while the $7.4 million new pool plan presented by the feasibility study may not be realistic for the city at this time, there is always a possibility of building a smaller pool or another water attraction like a splash pad at the location.

“The discussion is not over, it’s just, I don’t know that the result from the consultant was the result we were looking for,” Oberdorfer said.

Executive Director of Mainstreet Piqua Lorna Swisher gave an overview of the city’s plan to enact a DORA in downtown Piqua on a temporary trial basis.

A DORA is a specific area in which licensed liquor establishments may serve alcoholic beverages in an approved cup that allows the consumer to leave the premises with the alcoholic beverage in a DORA cup and continue consuming the beverage within the boundaries of the DORA. All other laws applicable to alcohol sales and consumption remain in effect.

According to Swisher, a total of 33 communities throughout the state of Ohio have enacted a DORA. Locally, this includes Tipp City and Greenville.

“We spoke with a number of different communities when we were putting together the guidelines for ours,” Swisher said. “Being a part of the Ohio Mainstreet network, as I am, and talking to my colleagues across the state, many of those deep-held concerns that (the DORA) turns into debauchery and drunkery on Main Street has absolutely not happened; it’s just not happened.”

Swisher noted that business owners will have the choice to allow patrons inside their facilities with DORA cups or not, and a sticker may be put on the front of any establishment to instruct passersby as to whether or not they may enter with a cup. Business owners may also change this decision when or if they see fit.

Piqua’s DORA request is currently undergoing the required state review, Swisher said, and on Aug. 3, city commission members will hold a meeting to modify, approve, or deny the application. If it is approved, the DORA will go into effect for 90 days beginning around Labor Day.

During the trial period, the activity and effects produced by the adoption of the DORA will be monitored and reviewed, Swisher said. At the conclusion of the trial period, the findings will be reviewed by city commission and the DORA will be modified as deemed necessary to meet the best interest of the community.

According to Oberdorfer, the commission is seeking public input regarding the prospective DORA. To learn more or to submit comments, questions or concerns, residents can visit www.piquaoh.org/DORA.

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