Letter: Center Grove activity center long overdue

To the editor:

Growth in White River Township, and specifically Center Grove schools, has created a unique challenge for residents and school officials: There isn’t enough space.

To think that this will not change, one only needs to look at the success in the Center Grove schools that has been published around the area and state -– it will attract more families to be a part of this outstanding school district.

I am writing to express that the Student Activity Center has been long overdue for the school system. In fact, I recall similar discussions among school board and school officials over the past 20 years, with nothing more than trash cans filled with drawings and plans.

I personally have been fortunate to be involved with many groups in our community. The one that demonstrated the biggest need for additional facilities occurred when I was fortunate to serve on the Center Grove Boys Basketball League Board and as the president.

In 2010, we had over 650 boys from first to sixth grades participating in our program, regardless of their physical ability, financial means or even if they attended a Center Grove school -– we were open to all in White River Township.

Our biggest challenge? Gyms.

We used both middle schools, as well as every elementary school in the school system. We also were forced to rent area churches as well as gyms in Perry Township. Add another 300 participants in the girls program, there were weeks when some kids did not have the opportunity to practice.

Walk the halls after the final bell in the school and see how many non-athletic clubs pack the hallways at the high school just for a chance to participate in some form of extra-curricular activities. Some of these groups have to return to school just to get their programs in till late in the evening on school nights.

This demand will only increase as the school continues to increase in enrollment. And to limit someone’s participation because there isn’t enough room/space is not acceptable.

I applaud the school administration for finding ways to be conservative in the needs of the school and not impacting my taxes. While I would have loved to have the whole project, including the swimming pool, done at one time to minimize the disruption of the school/traffic, the fact that they can build the largest part of the facility with no impact to taxes is great news.

Understand, that our youngest son is a senior at Center Grove and we no longer will have a child benefit from this new facility … but their kids will.

The Center Grove school system is not only the largest employer in the township, but it is the only identity that binds all of us as a community. Schools in Johnson County that are smaller have similar facilities, as do the majority of the schools that are in our conference.

I think we have waited long enough. Nowhere around the state are we identified as the unincorporated part of Johnson County. My mailing address is Greenwood, but we are Center Grove, we are Trojans.

Kevin N. Wheeler

White River Township