Freese Center remains in limbo, new community leader welcomed


GALION — The Economic Development & Airport committee in Galion met Tuesday and discussed Freese Center updates, Crawford Partnership leadership.

Freese Center update

The committee made the move to re-visit the Freese Center at next month’s meeting on May 17 at 7 p.m. The Freese Center is a proposed multi-sports regional facility that has been an ongoing proposal since 2015.

Costs and exact development plans continue to be an issue for the new center.

“They’re willing to look at a design change that might reduce the cost,” said Galion mayor Tom O’Leary.

Private fundraising is an option that was mentioned. The possibility of an investor coming in is an option that the city wants to keep open. “I think we should support that,” O’Leary said on the possibility of that happening.

“There has literally been a new demographic created in the last four or five months. Agree with it or disagree with it, it is a reality,” chairperson Aaron Ivy said. This is the leading factor into the city having to take a look over the Freese Center plans once again.

With the on-going water issue that has to be fixed, money for that has to come from somewhere.

“I think the community is doing alright generally. But, I have concern where we go next. We have a few industrial sites that will come into reality this year,” O’Leary said.

Talk of building new soccer fields for the youth was also briefly discussed.

“I think it is going to take a few years, from right now. I am of the belief that if you have three or four fields [it would benefit],” said the mayor.

Galion High School just built a new soccer complex near the school, but currently there is not enough soccer fields for youth soccer in Galion.

Extension of the YMCA would not be heavily supported, in terms of added space for daycare.

“I’m not going to support a $12 million dollar daycare center. We already have a YMCA with over 3,000 paying customers,” Aaron Ivy, council member said.

New Crawford Partnership CEO

David Zak will begin his role with Crawford County Partnership on May 16. The nonprofit organization works toward economic, community and workforce development in Crawford County.

“From my point of view we could have not found a better person. He knows the area really well. If you look at his career, every seven or eight years he kind of fixes the organization he is with,” O’Leary said.

In the past, Zak has worked with the Great Lakes Community Action, Ohio Economic Development Association and is fluent in the German language.

The committee hopes to invite Zak to a meeting after he begins his new role, so the earliest would be at the June meeting.

“I have a lot of confidence in this person. I think finally for the first time since I have been mayor that we finally have product for him to market,” spoke O’Leary.

“It will be exciting to have a new guy in there that knows how to do deals, also, has a pretty good [relationship] with people in Northwest Ohio.”

Engineering of Niss Drive

Ohio Department of Transportation Jobs & Commerce provided $75,000 to help fund the extension of Niss Drive in Galion. To this point there are water and sewer line plans set out, but have not began. In total there is around $172,000 ready for road infrastructure use. There was a point made to potentially use the money for reservoir and water treatment upgrades, due to the nature regarding the water issue in Galion.

“You could scramble before you lost the roadway dollars,” said O’Leary. The money is available until the end of next year, it must be put to use by then.

“I would like to look at the 401 funds, if the votes were there, some people would like to look at infrastructure out by Valero,” spoke O’Leary. Valero is right off of State Route 30, which is the area that the Freese Center is planned for.

“We have direction and I appreciate that.”O’Leary ended by saying.

Galion’s Economic Development & Airport Committee discusses several issues and suggests a new demographic could change plans for the Freese Center.’s Economic Development & Airport Committee discusses several issues and suggests a new demographic could change plans for the Freese Center. The City of Galion Facebook page

David Zak Zak The City of Galion Facebook page

By Brandon Little

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