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Newton Falls looks to lease center

Council makes offer to local non-profits

NEWTON FALLS — Village Council has agreed to offer local, non-profit organizations the opportunity to lease the community center.

While each member of council has discussed numerous ways to address issues with the building, for the first time, at a recent meeting, council agreed to look into putting the center up for rent, said Councilman Tarry Alberini, at-Large.

“We want to get it off center, get it out of our way,” Alberini said. “We have other priorities we want to focus on.”

Although the Newton Falls Preservation Foundation secured the building a historic plaque, marking it as a historical structure by the Trumbull County Historical Society, Alberini said the plaque was not a factor in council’s decision as members simply want to move things forward.

“There’s been a couple of groups, people and the foundation is expressing interest (in the building),” said Mayor Lyle Waddell. “It’s time to see what they want to do.”

Council has discussed demolishing the center because of the cost of maintaining it and other issues.

Steven Simpson, foundation president, said if the non-profit organization leases the building it would like to have dances for children and outreach programs to assist with the opioid problem, and turn part of the center into a village museum.

“We have many ideas around and a lot of good ones,” Simpson said.

Alberini said council, knowing the foundation is interested in leasing the building, would also extend the same opportunity to other local non-profit organizations.

Council has to consider other groups because the public building is funded by tax money, Alberini said.

“When it comes down to it, it takes money to refurbish it, money to keep it open and the city doesn’t have that kind of money,” Alberini said.

The building generates, at most, $24,000 a year, but it’s not enough to cover all of its expenses, Waddell said.

“It was closed for lack of funding and the building is not capable to be self-sufficient,” Waddell said.

Law Director Joseph Fritz is working drafting a lease, Alberini said. He said any maintenance or repairs would be the organization’s responsibility.

Waddell said he hopes the document will be finished and ready to distribute to local organizations by council’s next meeting Dec. 4. If no organization is interested in leasing the building, Waddell said, council will go back to discussing other options.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Simpson said. “Hopefully it will keep going forward and work together in the future.”

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