By Andrea Cordle
After much debate, funding for the Columbus Street extension got the green light from council.
At the Dec. 18 meeting, with a 3-2 vote, Grove City Council approved spending $6 million to extend and improve Columbus Street so that it would connect to the Beulah Park property.
Grove City Beulah Park Investments, LLC, has a conceptual plan to redevelop 213 acres of the former racetrack site. The plan calls for housing, commercial space and park space. According to the developers, a major part of the appeal of the property is its proximity to downtown Grove City and connection is key.
City leaders believe if they extend the road, more development opportunities would arise.
“The success of Stringtown Road was the result of the city building a road,” said councilman Steve Bennett.
Councilman Ted Berry said the city needs to bring people and businesses into the Town Center and funding the Columbus Street extension project is a way to achieve that.
“The city creates infrastructure and that brings opportunity,” said Berry. “This project will generate money for the city.”
Council approved the road project despite objections from two council members as well as community members.
Councilmen Jeff Davis and Steve Robinette voted against the $6 million project, not because they are against the plan, but because they believe there are still too many unknowns.
“I need more clarity on what we are buying,” said Robinette. “It is premature to move forward now. There are still too many unanswered questions.”
Davis said he wanted a comprehensive strategy for the project and was concerned the city was throwing money away.
“The tap appears to be wide open,” he said.
The plan to extend Columbus Street comes with many different aspects. The city is exploring options to not only extend the street, but construct a plaza, and a possible parking garage. To complete the project, the city would have to purchase property. City leaders also question what role a developer may play.
Grove City resident and soon-to-be councilwoman, Christine Houk said the ordinance to approve the $6 million funds should have been delayed.
“The project needs its due diligence and time for questions,” said Houk. “The $6 million is just the tip of the iceberg. You need the full picture.”
Grove City Beulah Park Investments plan to begin construction in the spring of 2018.