By Andrea Cordle
Despite several concerns from council members, Grove City Council unanimously approved the development plan for Brookpark Middle School.
The legislation was passed at the June 15 council meeting.
In the fall of 2019, both Grove City Council and the South-Western City Schools Board of Education signed off on an agreement to move the middle school to a new location in the soon-to-be redeveloped Beulah Park area. The city purchased several parcels of land around Demorest Road, Grove City Road and Elm Street so the district could build a 117,000 square foot, two-story building that will house approximately 800 seventh and eighth graders. The school would also include a baseball field, a football field with a track around it, bleachers, and a press box.
Under the agreement, the city would take ownership of the current Brookpark Middle School building on Southwest Boulevard, though the city’s plan for that site has yet to be determined.
Where the concern lies with the development plan is in traffic and parking.
According to city documents, the school would be accessed by two driveways, one coming from Demorest Road and the other coming from a future street within the Beulah Park development.
Engineers report that a traffic study will be conducted at the school site and it would determine if additional turn lanes or traffic calming measures were needed.
Councilman Roby Schottke said he is concerned that the vehicles and buses will back up traffic around Demorest and Grove City roads, an area that already sees heavy traffic at certain times of the day. In addition to school traffic, the Beulah Park development will add about 900 new residents to the area.
“I worked in the school district for 35 years and I have seen how cars and buses can stack up on roads,” said Schottke. “There needs to be a turn lane no matter what the traffic study says. The developers needs to put a turn lane into the school.”
Councilman Ted Berry agreed and said he wanted a guarantee that traffic would not stack up on Demorest Road, like he reported seeing on Park Street, with that school location.
“That is dangerous (for drivers on Park Street) and it should never have been like that,” said Berry.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike Stage said city administrators are looking into securing grants or funding to widen Demorest Road and install a traffic signal at Demorest and Grove City roads.
In addition to traffic concerns, council members had reservations about parking at the proposed Brookpark school.
According to the development plan, the proposed number of parking space at the middle school would be 199, which is less than the city code requirement of 324 spaces for a building of that size. However, the students are not of driving age, so city staff were supportive in the deviation of the number of parking spaces.
Council president Christine Houk said while the parking may suffice for day-to-day operations, the proposed parking lot had limited capacity for activities.
“What is the overflow plan?” asked Houk.
She said when the school hosts a football game or another popular activity, overflow parking could be pushed out into the surrounding neighborhood, which could create problems for those living in the area.
Schottke said there has been similar parking issues at Jackson Middle School, where people would park in the surrounding neighborhood because the school ran out of parking spaces for events.
“Residents had concerns,” said Schottke.
The city’s administration believes there would be ample parking around the new school site.
In other development news, council postponed its vote on the development plan for the old Kmart site, located at 2400 Stringtown Road.
According to Kyle Rauch, development director for Grove City, the 70,000 square-foot building will be repurposed into three retail spaces. One of those spaces would house Aldi.
The grocery store plans to move from its current location, at 4041 Gantz Road.
“It is a wonderful idea to repurpose the building,” said Schottke.
While city leaders showed support for the plan, council decided to postpone the issue to the July 6 meeting to iron out several details, including a discussion about restoring the stream. A stream runs along the property that has overgrown weeds and vegetation. Stage said it has become a haven for litter. The mayor said the city would work with the developer on a stream rehabilitation plan.
Council members also had concerns about the tower sign and parking.