Penns Valley Ram Community Center
Dear Penns Valley Community Members,
Since the Penns Valley Area School Board’s motion to authorize a subcommittee of the board to negotiate a land use agreement with the Ram Community Centre failed, the group of volunteers comprising the RCC has continued to meet and remain dedicated to the vision of bringing a community center to Penns Valley. We have a strong desire to move forward with this great project and continue to look at various options to make this dream a reality. Although various options continue to be explored, the RCC board has no intention of pursuing a site on Penns Valley Area School District property. The goal of RCC, Inc is to still create a centrally located community center that will benefit the students and residents of Penns Valley. We look forward to updating you in the future as to the progress that we have made.
Ram Community Centre Board
Allan Darr, Mike Culver, Gary Stine, Heidi Arruda, Martin Tobias, Betsy Quigley and Joel Myers
Dear Members of the Penns Valley Area School District Board:
As a Penns Valley resident and parent of two soon-to-be school age boys, I wish to offer my enthusiastic support for the proposed Ram Community Center (RCC). As a community we are afforded a remarkable opportunity to bring to fruition a privately funded, not-for-profit asset for public good. This facility has the clear potential to serve a true cross-section of our community. Such a project stands not only to benefit the students of the Penns Valley Area School District (District), but their friends, neighbors, families, parents and grandparents. How many communities are given such a chance to aggregate much needed school resources, sports education, fitness, healthcare, daycare and senior services all under one roof? Furthermore, how many communities are able to do so without need of taxpayer support and in a location central to the preponderance of its residents? We collectively have much to gain and I trust in our wisdom to take advantage of this opportunity.
As an architect, I am fortunate to be able to serve as a senior executive for one of the world’s largest architectural practices, and in doing so, serve as a global leader for our healthcare group. I lead a practice delivering over $8 billion worth of construction value of healthcare facilities worldwide through our 25 offices in Asia, North America, Europe, India and the Middle East. From this vantage point, I can offer that there is an unequivocal and growing global trend to capitalize on the potential for public-private partnerships to deliver much needed social infrastructure. While the scale, structure and reasons may vary, many countries and communities face the same challenges – how to provide services without taking on new debt, increasing taxes or assuming additional risk. The RCC mission is very consistent with this ideal and is frankly a sterling example of how communities and government bodies should partner. The mission of the District stands to be the prime beneficiary -- serving your students and the community while minimizing your cost and risk profile.
As a result of the breadth and flexibility of my professional role, my wife and I could make our home in any number of places. My wife and I have made Centre County our home for the better part of the last 15 years and Penns Valley our home for the last 9 years. Our decision to live in Penns Valley is a conscious one. We are fortunate to be able to raise our children in this community. Ours is the kind of place where our children can and will be known by their teachers and classmates. Ours is a diverse culture embracing those making their living in agriculture, those tied to the University, the Amish, as well as, those engaged in any number of endeavors from the arts to owning a small business. It is my belief that the strength, and strengthening, of our community comes through support of important academic, as well as, social infrastructure.
In concluding, as a father and parent, I believe we can and will need to do more to maintain the thriving community we now have, and simultaneously, prepare our children for success in a global community. The District is unique in your ability foster this kind of success. Your smaller size and abundant extracurricular offerings mean that our children are able to participate in many activities which grow their minds, bodies and character. It is my belief that these offerings teach students valuable lessons in commitment, competition, collaboration, compassion, ethics, hard-work and fair-play. These opportunities are resource intensive and we are fortunate that the RCC Board; its volunteers, partners and supporters, are willing to play an important role in sustaining this effort with little to no risk to the District. This is why our family has committed our money, and particularly through the efforts of my wife, our time.
I thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration of this unique opportunity.
Dear School Superintendent, Penns Valley School Board Members, and citizens of Penns Valley,
Our family will be out of town on July 26, so we are unfortunately unable to attend the forum concerning the Ram Community Centre. As such, I am writing to express the Brown Family support for the proposed Centre. Furthermore, we support the now rescinded proposal of leasing the land adjacent to the football field. This plan was the best plan to maximize the symbiotic relationship between school needs and community needs. The design and location would provide much needed facilities for minimal investment to the public. Those unable or unwilling to help need not pay anything at all.
The present design on a hill eliminates the need for an expensive elevator and the people using the upper floor can drive to the upper parking lot for easy access to the medical offices. Close proximity to the stadium and school building also makes this location ideal.
In this day and age of high energy costs and shrinking budgets, it does not make much sense to grab more flat farmland and spend money duplicating sewer, water, roads, parking lots, and heating systems just for single use buildings. Going through the subdivision process would waste valuable time, add needless cost and complication, and the school would not have future control of the property. The building design would have to be scrapped and started all over again and the value to the school would be diminished as the site distance increased.
As to child or school staff security, it is painfully obvious that any given madman can break and shoot his way into any building around with the possible exception of Rockview Prison. It simply is impossible for all of us to live with secret service type protection. In the words of Clint Eastwood, "the risk you take by living, is dying". Worrying about such a what-if situation means almost nothing would ever be built.
Most of us can say we had a better school facility and more educational opportunity than our parents had. It is now time for our generation to build upon what we were given so future generations will have an even better opportunity in Penns Valley.
Please support the Ram Community Centre and the people who have gone to a whole lot of trouble and expense to try and make Penns Valley better for people of all ages, now and in the future.
Dear School Board Members,
Please consider this correspondence as my official support of the PV Ram Community Center. I have been involved with trying to assist the community in bringing new facilities to the Penns Valley area since 2007. My initial interest was to try to find a way to get a wrestling practice facility at the school. Since 2007, my interest has grown to the broader YMCA facility and community needs. I strongly believe that a facility as proposed by the RCC will be of benefit to the entire district, but like all other controversial projects, certain aspects and actual facts get misrepresented and misconstrued. Once a project gets to this point with a split community based on uncertainties due to lack of full understanding, it is very difficult to reason and dispel misunderstandings to the community at large. I want to personally thank the Board and administration for holding the public meeting this week to allow all sides to voice there concerns as well as support for this potential endeavor. I think you will find that the majority of the community has taken the time to understand the pros and cons of this facility and that the project will be globally supported, and the individuals who have their minds dead set against it will not and do not want to accept the facts, which is unfortunate.
From what I have been hearing in the community, the biggest concern on everybody’s minds is taxes will increase due to the overall maintenance and upkeep of this facility, and if this facility fails, the school district will need to take it over, including the debt service. I know the structure of the original lease agreement that this simply will not and can not happen, and there is protection within the lease to make sure this does not happen. Furthermore, it is important to realize there is financial benefit to all of us as tax payers the this facility will provide revenue to the school district in the form of lease and utility user rates, which I find to be very significant.
Other legitimate concerns I have heard are the overall safety of our students and visitors to the new RCC. Although no project will be without issues and concerns, I commend the RCC for listening to these concerns and assembling a safety committee to evaluate and develop options to minimize or eliminate these issues. These concerns have not and will not go unheard or unaddressed. I truly know the benefits of this facility will out weigh all the concerns for the entire community.
I think it is also very important to understand why this center belongs on or near the school property. It should be in the center of our school district to benefit all. Because the school district has sewer and water service, this makes it possible to have the facility at the school. Due to the rural nature within the PVASD, we do not have a lot of options to place a facility like this. We need sewer and water capacity, at a minimum for a facility like this. I have personally been approached by a land owner in the Centre Hall area that would love to have this facility on his property, but I feel strongly that this facility needs to be centrally located in our community to best serve everyone.
Lastly, it is very, very difficult to develop a project like this and have it be self liquidating. It is incredible to me that everything has come together to make this project a reality. Without the services of sewer, water and heat from the PVASD, without the available land that can be leased by the PVASD verses a capital expenditure of purchasing somewhere else, without the tenants of the YMCA, Mt Nittany Medical center, etc., it would be practically impossible to try to develop this project anywhere else in our community!
If I did not believe in this project, I would not have spent so much time and effort with my involvement over the past five years. Please evaluate the facts and benefits this facility will have on entire community and directly to the PVASD as you make your final decisions in the near future.
Thanks again for your time and your thorough processing of this important project!
Robert S. Decker, P.E.
Nittany Engineering & Associates, LLC
July 20, 2012
To whom it may concern,
During the 2006-2007 school year, I had the privilege to serve as the interim superintendent of the Penns Valley School District. It did not take very long to recognize that many of the athletic facilities were in dire need of upgrading.
A community meeting was held in the middle school cafeteria. A large number of community members attended, as well as school district coaches. The purpose of the meeting was to inform and to enlist community members to help serve on a steering committee to help develop a plan for the future concerning the athletic facilities. Time was provided for anyone to express his or her needs and concerns. Several people volunteered to serve on the committee to help formulate a plan to inform the entire community of the poor safety conditions of the fields and how to raise funds to improve the athletic facilities at the high school and middle school. After the volunteer group got organized, it became known as the RAM Club
Members in the Penns Valley community who worked at Penn State University in the landscape engineering department were invited to the school district to evaluate and recommend how to improve the district athletic fields. After much discussion, the Penns Valley School Board appropriated funds to upgrade the football practice fields, soccer fields, and develop a boys’ junior varsity baseball field and a girls’ junior varsity softball field.
As one can see, much time and effort was expended to evaluate the athletic facilities, engage community members, and do what was right for the school district and tax payers. Chris Hosterman, a community member, was asked to provide the necessary leadership for the RAM club in partnership with the school district and to develop a comprehensive athletic needs assessment of the athletic facilities. The committee dedicated much time and effort to improve the athletic facilities for the school district.
As the committee progressed, the concept of the community center evolved. Many community services could be provided in a community center. The Penns Valley area has much to offer its residents. The community center concept on school property is not a new idea. Many communities in the United State have successfully implemented the concept.
I strongly encourage the school board, administration and community members to enthusiastically support the opportunity to enhance the quality of life for all the students as well as community members in the Penns Valley School District.
Respectfully submitted,John DiNunzio D.Ed.