By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
The Grove City Parks and Recreation RecSchool program will continue, just not in the big red barn at Gantz Park.
“We are fully engaged and committed to providing dedicated preschool facilities at the Kingston Center,” said William Vedra, deputy city administrator, at a recent Grove City Council meeting.
Vedra reported that they are making modifications to the Kingston Center building to find the best space possible for the preschool. He said city officials plan to update the classrooms in the building; one of which will be dedicated to preschool programs.
“We will continue to provide pre-K programming long-term,” said Vedra. “It is still early in defining how big that space will be.”
RecSchool, which was housed in the red barn at Gantz Park, uses nature-based activities to encourage learning in children ages 3-4. It is operated by the Grove City Parks and Recreation Department and runs from September through May.
This past summer, the RecSchool was shut down after city officials discovered that a colony of bats were living in the barn. A colony can consist of hundreds of bats. According to Vedra, the bats caused extensive damage to the barn. He said bat waste had been found in the wood, dry wall, ceiling tiles, duct work, and into the concrete block walls.
Vedra said after seeing the damage caused by the colony, city officials were not confident that they could restore the barn and make the structure safe. The city plans to demolish the barn.
“Economically, it makes more sense to demolish the building. There is just so much contamination,” said Vedra.
According to Vedra, the cost of the demolition is just over $19,000. He said they are working with a contractor to schedule a date for the demolition.
As for what will become of the park area once the big red barn is torn down, Vedra said the city has no plans beyond restoring the open space.
Community members were pleased about the news that RecSchool would continue.
“We want to make sure the program continues,” said Chris Emmerich at the council meeting. “We didn’t want to see it go away.”
Emmerich said she is part of a group of people who have been gathering to support preschool options in Grove City.
“We are going to have a RecSchool classroom. That’s really what we wanted.”
Kari Mays also addressed the council and said RecSchool is important to the community.
“Thank you for working to make this happen,” she said to city leaders.
Vedra said the dedicated RecSchool classroom at the Kingston Center should be ready by the start of the school year.