PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, OH (Toledo News Now) - Perrysburg Township Trustees have issued a statement regarding management of the Perrysburg Heights Community Center and a recent music festival that was supposed to be a fundraiser for the center but instead lost money .
Trouble with the event could jeopardize the future of the community center, which gives kids a place to go after school.
The Trustees's statement reads:
"Upon being unexpectedly confronted only weeks in advance of a concert event projected to have thousands of attendees at the Perrysburg Heights Community Center, the most immediate concern of Perrysburg Township government was to ensure the safety of the neighborhood and concert goers. Thanks to intense planning, coordination and execution by multiple local public safety agencies, the event occurred without significant incident and the most pressing concern was met with unqualified success. Even prior to the event the Township Trustees were preparing to undertake efforts to address the concerns of the community regarding the Perrysburg Heights Community Association ("PHCA").
The Township has been concerned for years with the diminishing financial accountability of the PHCA and the growing instability of PHCA leadership. Perrysburg Township is the owner of and one of the most significant investors in the Community Center. It is important to distinguish between the Community Center as a physical facility intended for supporting community programs and the PHCA, which is a community organization separate from the Center itself. The PHCA has operated the Community Center under a lease for approximately 18 years. The Township Trustees will not stand by and allow the Community Center to fail in its mission because the PHCA is unable to sustain a viable organization. The Township is reviewing its legal options and intends to act to save the Community Center for the community. The Township Trustees remain committed to the long-term success of the Community Center and improvement of the Perrysburg Heights community."
On Thursday people from the Perrysburg Heights neighborhood gathered to make their voices heard on the issue.
Many pointed the finger of blame at Community Center treasurer and festival organizer Jason Craig.
The festival was supposed to be a fundraiser for the center but it turned out to be bust. There were problems with promoters and most of the headliners were a no-show. Ten thousand fans were expected; only 1,000 showed.
A group, led by the center's founder and former board member, says the festival was a financial disaster, and they're worried the center could lose its building lease with Perrysburg Township, along with its non-profit status.
"These actions would then create a domino effect, putting our culturally unique neighborhood in jeopardy of extinction," said Sanchez-Serdo.
On Thursday, neighborhood resident Anita Sanchez-Serdo was surrounded by others who feel the same way outside the entrance to the center.
Sanchez-Serdo says Craig hired Perrysburg Township Police and officers from other departments to provide security at the event, which was ultimately unnecessary. She claims that due to Craig's actions, the center is now stuck with a security bill somewhere between $25-50,000.
"I believe the whole board is doing what Jason tells them to do," said David Sanchez. "I believe they're under Jason's control and that is why I believe the whole board should be removed."
The group is asking Ohio Governor John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine to investigate Craig and the rest of the board.
Craig did not return a phone call from Toledo News Now seeking comment.