Council votes to put events back on Broadway

By Andrea Cordle

Grove City Editor

Grove City Council approved legislation that would put popular events back on Broadway despite concerns from the city’s administration.

For many years, events like Arts in the Alley and the Grove City Wine and Arts Festival were held along Broadway. More recently, the city’s administration has moved those events off Broadway to address safety and traffic issues. As the city grows, so does its traffic and city leaders did not want to divert the traffic from State Route 62 onto residential streets.

Councilman Randy Holt introduced the legislation that would direct the city administrator to cause the closing of Broadway for Arts in the Alley and the Wine and Arts Festival. He said the organizations that host those events (Grove City Chamber of Commerce for Arts in the Alley and Heart of Grove City for Wine and Arts) support the plan.

This ordinance does not mandate that the events are held on Broadway. It allows for the events to be at that location but it is up to the organizations to apply for a permit and state its intent to hold the event on Broadway.

“We have all heard a clear message from residents,” said Holt at a recent council meeting. “The value of having the events on Broadway exceeds the residential inconvenience of detours.”

Council members believe that if Circleville can close its streets for the annual pumpkin show and Bucyrus can close its main route for the bratwurst festival, then Grove City can do the same.

According to William Vedra, deputy city administrator, comparing those municipalities with Grove City is not “apples to apples.” He said though Circleville does close U.S. Route 23, there are other routes to direct truck and other traffic around the area. In addition, he said Bucyrus also has a simple detour to get divers through town when that city closes its main route.

Vedra said the average daily traffic count at Broadway and Columbus Street is 17,000 vehicles. He said the residential streets around the downtown area are not designed to handle that amount of traffic, which includes truck traffic.

“Based on our experience and professional opinion, the risks of closing Broadway outweigh the benefits to the entire community,” said Vedra. “Our number one goal is safety.”

Further complicating matters is the Columbus Street sewer expansion project that will be in progress from July through December. Drivers will see a westbound only Columbus Street detour with this construction project.

Holt said this project could been viewed as a positive, as drivers would already be accustomed to a detour in the area.

“If the administration would spend an equivalent amount of time in the past several weeks trying to improve our detours, rather than finding last minute construction items and blockers, we could easily have the same success as Circleville,” said Holt.

Pamela Drone, who is a small business owner and a Grove City resident, believes the safety issues are with the events being jammed into a small area off Broadway.

“It is not safe as it is now,” she said.

Drone said it is not safe for people in wheelchairs or those with limited mobility.

“Everything is crowded and packed together.”

She also said the small businesses on Broadway benefit from events being held on Broadway.

Councilman Ted Berry said having the events off Broadway has impacted local business owners.

“Moving an event behind Broadway does not give businesses any help,” said Berry.

The legislation to allow the chamber and the Heart of Grove City to move their events back on Broadway was approved with a majority vote. The only vote against the ordinance was council president Christine Houk, who said council should not be giving directives to the experts in the field.

“If council makes a decision to give a directive, we assume the risk of that decision,” said Houk.

She said everyone would love to have events on Broadway, but with the growth in the city, traffic is only going to become heavier.

“It’s not about the inconvenience of the flow of traffic. It is a safety issue – the pros say it is,” said Houk.

Vedra said the city’s administration would like to make the Town Center Park the premier event space. He said there are plans to add permanent restrooms and other amenities and the space allows event planners more time to set up and tear down.

According to Vedra, there is potential for more than six acres of event space in and around the Town Center Park.

“That is much larger than Broadway,” he said.

Vedra also announced plans to move the annual Homecoming Celebration from Broadway this year. The legislation council approved gives the green light for the Grove City Chamber of Commerce and Heart of Grove City to host events on Broadway. The homecoming is a city-sponsored event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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