The lumberyard development in downtown Grove City could go to the dogs.
At the June 21 council meeting, city leaders and residents debated the idea of a park at the former lumberyard site, which sits adjacent to City Hall. The park could include a dog area and water feature/ice skating rink, along with a pavilion and green space.
"Properties surrounding parks such as in New York and even here locally at Schiller and Goodale parks demand higher values and rents as the view is a major factor in the desirability of property," said councilman Steve Bennett.
Bennett said the city has had the lumberyard property for over 10 years and has allowed it to deteriorate.
"How can a governing entity enforce its laws, while failing to observe them?" asked Bennett.
Grove City Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage disagreed with Bennett and said over the past 10 years, the city has approved funding and development plans for the property.
"Anyone who says nothing has happened in 10 years has their head in the sand," said Stage.
Residents had mixed views on the potential dog park.
Karen Dover, a Town Center business owner, said the dog park is a good idea as many people would take advantage of the park.
"We need things as a destination point downtown," said Dover.
Dover said dog parks are well attended. Dover even said she would consider making her business dog friendly.
Warren Gard said he embraces the idea of a central park. He suggested hosting farmer’s markets there and even opening an outdoor theater, where actors from Little Theatre Off Broadway could perform.
"This could truly be a shining star in Grove City, " said Gard.
Debbie Hill drives 45 minutes to take her labrador retriever to a dog park. She said the parks are always packed and fun.
"People love their pets," said Hill. "It brings people together. It’s a happy thing."
Other residents think a dog park would not give the city’s downtown the economic boost it needs.
Marv Holt, with the city’s planning commission, said the idea is to encourage business development in the Town Center.
"I fail to see how this plan would encourage development," said Holt.
Toni VanHorn said a dog park would not create jobs or stimulate the local economy. She said there are already numerous parks in Grove City.
Les Bostic, former city administrator, said a dog park is a good idea, but the city should find a new location.
"I feel you are rushing to make this decision," Bostic said to council.
Kim Conrad, director of Grove City Parks and Recreation, said she is a strong proponent of a dog park. However, Conrad opposes a dog park at the former lumberyard site.
The park director said the size of the dog park would be approximately one acre.
"That is not sufficient space," said Conrad.
She said the upkeep on one acre would be tough for the department because the turf damage dogs can cause.
"I feel we need to look at other options," said Conrad.
Stage encouraged council to take additional time with the plan before making a decision.
The mayor said the issue had not been discussed with him or with the parks and recreation department. He also said he would like to see additional public participation.
"We will have a dog park," said Stage. "But we need it to be in the right location."
Councilwoman Melissa Albright said council was trying to do a "slingshot move" to get the legislation through. She feels the issue needs further review.
Council president Ted Berry amended the resolution to request an architect suggest uses for the site, including, but not limited to, a dog area and other park amenities.
Albright and councilman Greg Grinch were against the amendment. Grinch said the language limits the development to only a park. He said council should remove the resolution.
Council voted 3-2 to postpone the resolution until the July 19 council meeting.