By Dedra Cordle
The city of Grove City has been recognized by a national association that honors communities for its plans to build a more sustainable future.
In late June, the American Planning Association’s Sustainable Communities Division (SCD) announced that the city had been selected to receive its annual award for excellence in sustainability. The city was just one of eight municipalities country-wide to receive the award.
In a video presentation, the SCD noted the city’s “extraordinary achievements” in developing a plan with actionable items that allows for the growth of the community to coincide with green initiatives to preserve a better quality of life now and into the future.
The award was shared among the city’s environmental sustainability committee, its parks and development departments, and students from the Ohio State University’s City and Regional Planning program at the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture.
Linda Rosine, the city’s environmental supervisor who also serves as the chair of the environmental sustainability committee, said they were all “thrilled” to have received recognition for its local plans at a national level.
“It is very exciting,” she said. “As a city official and as a partner with this school, we are so thrilled to have been a recipient of this award.”
However, she added that national acclaim and recognition was not on their minds when they began to create the framework for the plan to sustain the land well into the future.
“It’s nice,” she said, “but it wasn’t the purpose.”
The city had been working to transform itself into a green community well before this award-winning plan began to develop, Rosine explained.
She noted the establishment of a city-wide recycling program, the transition to LED lights at city buildings and public traffic lights, and the creation of the advisory group Keep Grove City Beautiful as some of their earlier green efforts.
But in order to complement the massive future land use and development plan known as GroveCity2050, the city needed to come up with a plan to make that growth more equitable with nature and the changing environment.
With the approval of the city council, an environmental sustainability committee was created in 2019 and they enlisted the assistance of students at Ohio State’s sustainability studio to build on their current programs and recommend future actions that could be implemented.
Rosine said the plan has eight focus areas, each with an action item to ensure those cross-cutting goals are met. The eight focus areas are built environment; business practices; city operations; community engagement; energy; natural environment; transportation; and waste reduction and recycling.
Under the focus area of natural environment, Rosine said an action item could be to plant more native species in open spaces or utilize space for community gardens. Alongside the action item would be a timeframe to meet those goals.
Under the focus area of waste reduction and recycling, Rosine said an action item could be to install more recycling bins around the city, or to encourage participation in a food waste reduction program.
The city, she noted, has already implemented a few of those goals (a community garden has been established at Fryer Park, and they are several months into a one-year pilot program to collect residential food waste at a drop-off location behind Brookpark Middle School, near the Big Splash off Southwest Boulevard) and the participation level has been a success.
“We have already collected over 5,000 pounds of organic matter (from the food waste drop-off location),” she said.
Unlike regular recycling, Rosine said she knows there is hesitancy to store food waste. She said one goal under the waste reduction and recycling action item could be to educate the public on how to safely do it through literature or workshops. She said another goal would be to permanently establish a food waste drop-off location but added that would likely have to be funded by the city.
Other action items include installing additional electric vehicle charging stations, transitioning some city vehicles over to a hybrid fleet, and updating building codes to coincide with the city’s green initiatives.
Rosine said the city and its partners are “proud” of the sustainable plan it has developed thus far and they look forward to adding onto this “live document” and meeting its goal as they try to create a more sustainable future.