Center Grove petition showdown to begin

Starting Friday, the push begins to collect signatures for and against a new Center Grove activity center.

If supporters gather the most, Center Grove can move forward with plans to build a $10 million fieldhouse, with a six-lane indoor track and four basketball courts, that would be connected to the high school. If opponents collect more signatures, plans for the facility would have to be put on hold for at least a year.

Both sides can pick up petitions Friday. They then have a month to collect the most signatures.

This weekend, you can expect to start seeing volunteers seeking your signature.

Both sides have been recruiting volunteers to help gather signatures, and both plan drive-thru petition collections, where residents don’t need to even get out of their cars to sign. Residents who worked on a campaign against creating a town of Center Grove three years ago used that method and were able to collect more than 2,000 signatures in one day, said Frank Rossa, who is leading the group opposing the new Center Grove activity center.

“Going door to door is not really efficient,” Rossa said.

Billy Bemis, a Center Grove area resident and local developer, is leading the supporters’ side. He said the goal with drive-thru petition collections is to make them easy for residents. Their research has shown they can garner a lot of support through those drives, he said.

Volunteers have started putting up signs throughout the Center Grove area, letting people know where petition drives will be in the coming days, Bemis said. The supporters group has more than 150 volunteers who will help get those signatures, including parents with children involved in the clubs and teams that would use the facility and empty nesters whose children have been through Center Grove schools, he said.

“They know the importance of supporting the school system and what it has to offer the community,” Bemis said.

Rossa is having a final meeting to organize volunteers Monday before having twice-a-week petition signings for the next month. He has talked with at least 15 people who are interested in volunteering and will always accept more, he said.

“Hopefully we can get enough people engaged,” he said.

Rossa prompted the petition drive by gathering the 100 signatures needed to start the petition and remonstrance process. Since the project does not cost more than $10 million, it does not need to be approved by voters. But Rossa said residents should get a chance to weigh in on the project.

“Whether they are for or against it, people need to get out in the community and get engaged,” Rossa said.

Rossa said he opposes the new fieldhouse because it is excessive, with a price tag of $10 million, and isn’t needed since Center Grove already has nice facilities. He also said he doesn’t believe the general public supports it.

“People want to see Center Grove putting money towards academics and not sports or extracurriculars,” Rossa said. “The area has voted down money for teachers and academics, so there is no doubt the community is against the athletic facility.”

Bemis said he has not heard from anyone who opposes the project and has gotten only a few questions from people he has spoken to. The majority of people support the project because they know it is needed, he said.

“There is such a need, and the timing is right, and Center Grove has gone so long without a facility like this, that people are more than eager to support it and see it through,” Bemis said.

His goal is to educate residents about the project so they can make an informed decision about whether to support it, he said.

If you go

Both supporters and opponents of a proposed $10 million Center Grove student activity center are planning petition signing events:


4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, White River Township Trustee’s Office parking lot, 2929 S. Morgantown Road, Greenwood

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, trustee’s office parking lot

9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Center Grove Lassie League, 110 N. Morgantown Road, Greenwood

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 21, Aqua Systems parking lot, 905 N. State Road 135, Greenwood

1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 5, Center Grove Lassie League


Organizational meeting for volunteers: 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, trustee’s office community room

Drive-thru petition signings in trustee’s office parking lot:

  • 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 21
  • 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 24
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 28
  • 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 3
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 5
  • 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 9
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 12
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.