City uses racetrack funds for road projects


By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

The city plans to use its remaining racetrack redevelopment funds on two road projects.

At the Jan. 4 meeting, Grove City Council approved legislation to use those funds for work on Columbus Street and Southwest Boulevard.

The state of Ohio set up a racetrack facility community economic redevelopment fund to assist municipalities in the redevelopment of abandoned race tracks. With the closure of Beulah Park, the city of Grove City was eligible to receive $3 million from that fund.

The funds would be used to redevelop or enhance the Beulah Park property or surrounding areas.

In May of 2015, a racetrack redevelopment committee was formed. In June, that committee made its funding recommendation to council to spend approximately $2.4 million to restore and relocate West Water Run as well as construct Greenway Trail.

According to Mike Keller, the city’s consulting engineer with EMH&T, the city is still eligible for $594,000 in state racetrack redevelopment funds.

Council approved the racetrack committee’s recommendation to use approximately $163,000 for planning and design engineering of the Columbus Street extension project. The committee also suggested the city spend about $432,000 for improvements at the Southwest Boulevard and Broadway intersection.

Keller said construction of the Columbus Street extension project is estimated at $2 million and would not be covered by this racetrack redevelopment fund. He said it would take about one year to design the plan.

According to Keller, the Southwest Boulevard and Broadway intersection and corridor project would widen the intersection, replace the traffic signal and add a left turn lane onto Broadway.

Not all council members were on board with the plan. Councilwoman Laura Lanese voted against it.

Regarding the Columbus Street extension funding, Lanese said the city should factor in the railroad crossing before it proceeds with funding.

In order to extend Columbus Street, the city would need a right-of-way easement from CSX for a railroad crossing.

“It seems like we are putting the cart before the horse,” said Lanese.

The councilwoman also disagrees with using the racetrack redevelopment funds for the Southwest Boulevard corridor improvement project.

She said the city was using the funds to pay off already-approved city projects.

“This was not the intent of those funds,” said Lanese. “We are using it to fill in the budget.”

Councilman Steve Bennett said he also questioned using the state funds for already planned road projects, but said it all helps the effort to revitalize the downtown area.

He said with the planned development in the Town Center, these road projects are vital.

“The growth spurt we are about to have will be less painful,” said Bennett.

Grove City Administrator Chuck Boso said the state racetrack funds can be used for improvements in the Town Center. He also said the city wanted to move forward with securing the funds before the state changes the program.

Racetrack redevelopment committee member Christine Houk said the group made the recommendation to make the area more marketable.

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