The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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January 17, 2013

Geneva BOE, Spire terminate leases, extend contract

AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP — The contractual relationship between the Geneva Board of Education and Spire Institute is both ended and renewed, as the district terminated land use agreements with the sports complex and at the same time signed for another five years of football and track at the Harpersfield Township athletic center.

The board unanimously voted on the contracts in its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday night at Austinburg Elementary.

According to the new agreements, Spire will no longer lease Memorial Field from the district and will no longer require the use of Geneva High School’s classrooms or the development of its surrounding land for athletic use.

“Due to a change in circumstances at Spire, it was determined that they no longer need to use our facility in the evening,” Superintendent Mary Zappitelli said.

Zappitelli said the district will keep the $100,000 for the first year of the contract, but the income anticipated from the remainder of the five-year agreement has been removed from the district’s financial forecast.

District administrators had not planned to develop the land around Geneva High School, as Spire was contracted to build the athletic fields at no cost to the district, according to the terms of the terminated contract.

Additionally, as the lease agreement between the district and Spire regarding Memorial Field — Geneva’s former football and track stomping grounds  — was also terminated, the schools resume responsibility for the property at a cost of $20,000 per year.

“As part of our agreement with Spire, they are to use and lease Memorial Field,” Zappitelli said. “Unfortunately, with the fire at the field in the spring, it became apparent that it was neither in the best interest of the board or Spire to continue with that lease.”

The board voted unanimously to terminate the agreement three years into the five year contract.

But all is not lost in the relationship between the Geneva Eagles and Spire Institute, as the district also penned an agreement to extend the existing contract for track and football at the sports complex at near identical terms for another five years.

The district gets use of the state-of the-art sports complex for $20,000 per year, minus the lease on Memorial Field, which will cost the district approximately $20,000 per year to maintain.

District treasurer Kevin Lillie said that while soccer is not addressed in the contract with Spire, district soccer games are played at the complex.

“And soccer will probably continue to play there under this new contract,” he said.

The district also hosts its yearly commencement ceremony at Spire, free of charge, board president David Foote noted.

Zappitelli said the future of Memorial Field is now in question, as the fire, determined to be arson, severely damaged the grandstands.

“We are looking into future uses for the field,” Zappitelli said. “We are in talks with the city for a possible collaboration for use of the land, but nothing has been decided yet.”

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