By Andrea Cordle
The city of Grove City and Beulah Park have a long history together. But change is inevitable.
In 2012, Penn National, the owner of Beulah Park, announced that the park’s racing license would be relocated to northeast Ohio. The relocation of Beulah Park could leave the property available for redevelopment.
On Feb. 3, Grove City council and city administration held a special meeting to discuss ideas for the future of Beulah Park.
“Beulah is an evolution,” said Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage. “We see opportunities and inspiration.”
Stage said the city administration has come up with a conceptual plan for the Beulah Park property.
“We want it to compliment the Town Center and the city as a whole,” said Stage.
The mayor said the city would like to have the site redeveloped as a mixed use area with open space set aside for community gatherings.
According to the conceptual plan, the city administration has laid out several redevelopment principles. It specifies that development on the site should highlight the historical significance of the park, serve as a community gathering place and promote opportunities to connect the city for bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The concept also says the development should provide a fiscal benefit to the city.
Many residents attended the meeting. Mary Shaw, who lives near Southwest Boulevard and Demorest Road, said she likes the idea of a mixed use site, but said she does not want to see more warehouses in that area.
Other residents said Beulah Park seemed like an ideal spot for a community recreation center.
Stage said the city has asked an independent firm to perform a feasibility study on where to locate a $20 million facility in the city.
“Beulah Park seems like a good place, but we are not ready for that just yet,” said Stage.
Stage said he is frequently asked why the city does not just buy the property.
“This is a big, big issue,” said the mayor. “This is a massive site.”
He said there is at least three miles of fencing and 70 buildings to consider.
Council president Ted Berry said the purpose of the special meeting was to start engaging the community.
“We’re not rushing out to buy anything,” said Berry. “This is the first of many public meetings to come.”
Councilman Steve Bennett said council wants to take the time to review redevelopment opportunities at the site.
“You only get one chance to do it right,” said Bennett.
Beulah Park is a $9 million property, located along 213 acres. Its racing season will run through May of this year.
According to Stage, Penn National has agreed to allow the city to use the facility through the end of the summer for community events like Blast at Beulah and Balloons and Tunes.
He said the city will work with Penn National regarding redevelopment plans. Even though Penn National owns the property, the city has leverage. About three years ago, the city approved a tax abatement status for the site. The city also has control over the zoning code.
To review the conceptual framework plan, visit the city’s website www.grovecityohio.gov.