City seeks ideas for a recreation center

By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

City leaders in Grove City would like to build a community recreation center and they are looking to other municipalities for ideas.

At the March 7 meeting, council invited Ed Merritt, the director of recreation and parks for the city of Hilliard, to share his plans for a recreation center in that area. Merritt was a former parks employee with the city of Grove City.

“Council is looking at different ideas for a community recreation center,” said council president Ted Berry. “We are asking other communities what they have done and what works.”

In November 2021, Hilliard voters approved Issue 22, which raised the city’s income tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent. This is said to generate $7.5 million to be set aside for recreation and parks programs and infrastructure.

“It wasn’t a property tax, it was an income tax,” said Merritt.

According to Merritt, the city of Hilliard purchased property adjacent to its existing municipal park, where city leaders plan to build a community recreation center. The center is expected to cost between $14 and $15 million with another $20 million expected for infrastructure improvements.

Last month, Grove City councilman Roby Schottke laid out his ideas for building a recreation and aquatics center during a special council meeting. His idea is to construct the facility at the new Pinnacle Park.

The city purchased land that will be used as park space. The property is about 36 acres in size and according to Schottke, a recreation center would use about six acres of that space.

“We already own the land, and we have the Pinnacle TIF (tax increment financing) to help pay for the structure,” said Schottke.

According to Schottke’s proposal, it would cost an estimated $40 million to build a recreation center and about $2 million to operate it annually.

“We have about $8 million available in the Pinnacle TIF fund and that TIF generates about $2 million a year,” said Schottke.

Like the city of Hilliard, Schottke suggested increasing the city’s income tax by a half a percent, which would affect income earned in Grove City. The councilman said he believes membership should be free to residents.

At the council meeting, Schottke asked Merritt if Hillard plans to charge a membership fee. He said there will be a fee to use the facilities.

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage asked Merritt if the city of Hilliard had an operating YMCA in the area. It does – the Hilliard/Ray Patch Family YMCA.

In addition to gathering ideas and input from neighboring municipalities, Grove City leaders plan to gather community input. Schottke said he would like the city to start hosting town hall meetings on the matter.

In other news, council approved a measure to appropriate $700,000 from the Pinnacle TIF fund for improvements, like road maintenance, to Buckeye Parkway.

Grove City resident Bob Ruth suggested city council use city funds to pay for the road work and let the county keep the TIF funding to help pay for social services that would benefit the area’s most vulnerable residents.

Stage said that the Pinnacle TIF was established to cover capital work expenses for the betterment of that area.

The infrastructure improvements will take place along Buckeye Parkway from Holton Road to Borror Road.

Council also approved a development plan for Columbus Powersports, located south of Home Road and east of Broadway. The property is just over one acre in size and the site will be used for the sale of new golf carts and mowers. The products will be kept indoors, in a showroom.

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