Ram Centre comes back in the spotlight

mcarroll@centredaily.comOctober 2, 2012 

— The Penns Valley Area school board is expected to discuss the future of the stalled Ram Community Centre project at a meeting today Wednesday.

District officials said the board will continue to deliberate at its work session about the benefits of building a community center on school property.

Board President Jay Martin said those talks likely will include how to proceed with the RCC project.

The board could vote as soon as its Oct. 17 meeting on whether the district will re-enter negotiations with Ram Centre Inc., the nonprofit organization behind the project.

Originally approved by the board in July 2011, the Ram Centre was to house a branch of the Centre County YMCA, the Centre County Office of Aging, and, RCC officials hoped, Mount Nittany Medical Center physicians group offices in Penns Valley.

Those plans fell apart amid vocal opposition from community members in late May when the school board voted to rescind the 30-year lease it offered for use of district land.

Since then, the Centre County Boardof Commissioners has voted to pull out of a lease they signed with the RCC, and Mount Nittany agreed to a new three-year lease at its current location in Penns Valley.

But RCC officials, including Allan Darr, who is also a member of the school board, have vowed to continue pursuing the project.

Martin, meanwhile, formed a committee and invited community members to separate meetings to discuss what they would want or need in a possible future community center project should the Ram Centre, in its current form, not come to fruition.

The board held a larger town hall meeting in July to give residents a chance to voice their opinions about the project. District officials said they would wait 30 days after collecting the comments to decide whether to proceed with the lease or sale or do nothing and let the current RCC project die.

Martin said a motion to that effect will be placed on the agenda for the board’s Oct. 17 meeting.

If the board ultimately decides not to re-enter negotiations with the RCC, Martin recommended the panel establish parameters for possible future community center discussions.

“I have a draft of things I’m interested in,” Martin said. “Generally, I want the board to discuss the needs for the school district and for the community for us to consider a lease with any organization for a community center.”

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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