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Future of WREC Remains Uncertain

The board held a work session Thursday evening to discuss the future of the WREC.

The Warminster Board of Supervisors held a special work session meeting Thursday night to discuss the future of the .

Discussed at the meeting were several possible options for the parks department and its many programs, most of which are currently housed at the WREC.

The board stressed that no decision had to be made during the meeting - and one was not - but discussions about the future of the WREC would be an on-going process as the township begins to work on next year’s budget.

Township Manager Richard Manfredi asked, “Do we continue at status quo … or do we look at alternatives?”

If the township decides to vacate the 50-year-old building, the two tenants - Time for Tots and Memorable Affairs - who rent space in the building and pay more than $100,000 in yearly rent, would have to be given six months notice before they must leave the building, according to Manfredi.

The WREC building, which is just over 60,000-square-feet, will need between $400,000 and $1 million dollars of roof work completed in the next few years. In the years following, other major capital projects on the building will have to be completed, Warminster Parks and Recreation Director Karen Whitney said.

Former tenants Bucks IU, Head Start, Berkheimer and BARC, and the township will likely not be able to replace them due to the condition of the facilities, Manfredi said citing the counsel of a realtor and architect.

If the township wanted to close the WREC, sell it, or tear it down, they would most likely need to purchase the reversionary interest clause that was included in the deed by the Centennial School District when the township took over the building in 1988. Solicitor Mary Eberle told the board she has talked to the district’s lawyer and they have no intention to drop the reversionary interest, but the district could purchase it.

Residents who live near the WREC voiced concern about what would happen to the opening space at the property if it were to be sold to a builder.

Another option floated during Thursday's meeting would keep the WREC open for another year with no capital expenditures. The hope would be that the tenants would stay for another year and more time could be sought to make a final decision on the fate of the building.

Manfredi stated the goal is to not dip into the Parks and Recreation Department’s reserve fund to pay for building cost. Those cost have mostly been payed for by revenue brought in by tenants - many of which left last year - and through cost cutting by Whitney.

One of the many other options discussed was constructing a new community center, similar to the Upper Southampton Community Center, on the grounds of the 243 acre . The new building has been estimated to cost between $6 and $7 million dollars.

Chairman Leo Quinn said he did not want to build a new community center if it were to raise taxes in the township.

Warminster and the Centennial School District are currently engaged in talks about moving township programs to the schools located in the township as a short-term answer if the WREC is closed, Manfredi said.

Manfredi said the talks are preliminary and at the next township meeting he hopes to have more information to present.

More discussions on the WREC issue is planned over the next few months, officials said.

Pamela June 04, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Let me get this straight...MY Board of Supervisors, who I ELECT, is willing to actually discuss NEW CONSTRUCTION for $6-$7 MILLION but not REPAIRS to the OLD build for $1.4 MILLION. HAVE YOU PEOPLE LOST YOUR MINDS!! DID it occur to you that JUST MAYBE with the repairs tenants would be WILLING to rent out the space especially those that are LOSING THEIR LEASES IN LEARY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL? There are 6 tenents currently renting in that space...As for renting space from the school district....get real....HELLO ..the lights are on, but I don't think anyone is home....
Kevin Quinn June 04, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Pamela, The situation is bigger than simply $1.4m vs $6-7m. The cost to keep the old building in operating condition is growing year after year. The Township doesn't want to drop money into the building with the risk that the School District can opt to take it back at any time.
Sarah Ronzelli June 04, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Does anyone realize that the Township has the TITLE to the Wrec Center and all the land it sits on! Yes there is a clause that the School District has but, it only means that the Township can not sell the land to Builders or anyone else.Where is all the money the Wrec earned by leasing the building to the tenants over the years? Let's get the fact straight. Since the Wrec received $100,000.00 for two current tenants, how much did they received before the rest who move out??? Until we get the total financial picture of this situation, we the public are sick of hearing "we can not put any money into this building" ok, how much did you received from rents on this building and where did the money go????
Pete Krenshaw June 04, 2012 at 03:45 PM
It is my impression anything done to the WREC or as an alternative will cost money and the discussions included all options. Isn't that the responsible thing to do, evaluating all options before proceeding and having a public discussion about it? According to the article, it sounds like that is what is happening and no decisions have been made.
Pamela June 05, 2012 at 11:40 AM
I do believe that when the school district was deciding to implement their plan on school consolidation it came out the the Township does in fact own the title on the property. Therefore it is Township property. When it comes to responsible actions: I would ask if the Board of Supervisors have been in talks with the SD for use of their schools buiding why did it never come up that the Leary was for sale and that there was 6 tenants currently renting in that building that would in the near future need a new place of business? I would think as RESPONSIBLE representative of the Township, they should have been aware of these facts and pursued them. Either we have extremely unimaginative representative who can't seem to see beyond spending other peoples money, as they are working closely with the School Board or there is missing information that was never presented at the meeting.
Pamela June 05, 2012 at 11:52 AM
the cost of operating the building is growing due ot the fact that they refuse to repair the roof and make other necessary repairs. Tenants have moved out due to the decay of the buiding. Why should they pay rent for a leaking old building? Would you? However it does seems to make a nice a tax deduction for the township every year after they get their money from the classes that are held there.
Pete Krenshaw June 05, 2012 at 01:15 PM
The way I understand it, all options are being looked at including renovating the existing WREC building to entice tenants to rent again. I personally do not think the Township should be in the landlord business but I like that they are looking at all options. No matter what is done, the Township will need to spend money. The question is, what is the most responsible way to spend it while serving the needs of the Township taxpayers? Obviously that is not a simple question to answer as no one seems to be rushing to a decision.
Pamela June 06, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Actually I had a very informative and pleasant discussion with a member of the Board of Supervisors yesterday. He explained to me that while the Township does have the building, the School District also has the right to claim that they need it for "educational purposes" and can take it over if they deem necessary. It seems the Township is in a very sticky situation and the writer of this article did not elaborate or explain, all they did was state that Township was looking at spending $6-$7 million on new construction and was in talks with the SB. He also did not explain the several other options that were discussed at the meeting. I am being to wonder just how much of this reporting is to "stir" people up, instead of reporting information to the citizens of Warminster. I would suggest that anyone who truly wants information on this contact the Board themselves for some very good information on the alternatives that the township is look into. It definately set my mind at ease that they are being responsible and resourceful with the taxpayers money.
Pete Krenshaw June 06, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Thanks for the update Pamela. I figured there was more to this story then what was written just by what I have heard on the "street". From what I understand there are no easy solutions.
Sarah Ronzelli June 07, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Pamela, Thank you for this information, so glad a Supervisor spoke with you about this situation, we the taxpayers need to have all the information we can get. According to the article, the Township has had the Wrec for 24 years and the School District might want this building back?? I am curious why would they want a building back that needs repairs since they are selling 3 schools?? You state there are other options for the Township, spending over a million in repairs or building a new building for 6 or 7 million in a park. Could you please let me know the other options? My children go to programs at the Wrec and the staff does a great job for the community. I would like to Wrec to stay open and hope the other options will allow this to happen. You seem to know more than the rest of us, so could you give us more information. If the paper is not reporting all the facts we need to know. Truly not many people have responded to this article so I hope your answers will get more people involved.
Thomas Hezel June 25, 2012 at 05:51 PM
They can't take it back at any time. They have to prove they need it for educational purposes. It's clear with the latest strategic consolidation and new construction that they would never do that. If they did, why didn't they renovate their other buildings? for the same reason the township doesn't want put money into the WREC. I don't see how you can build new for 6-7 million though. 10-15 maybe. Why don't you sell that golf course, and put the money into something everybody can use.

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