Funding for Columbus Street project debated

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By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Last month, city leaders approved a measure to form a racetrack redevelopment committee. With the committee in place, the city would be eligible for up to $3 million in state aid to assist in the redevelopment efforts at Beulah Park.

Now, city officials already have ideas about where to spend most of that money.

At the May 4 meeting, Grove City Council approved an ordinance to appropriate $2.5 million from the general fund for the Columbus Street extension project and Grant Avenue improvements.

The racetrack committee is supposed to define redevelopment projects and make recommendations to council. State funds can be used for improvement projects that are in a one-mile radius of the Beulah Park property. The Columbus Street extension project falls into that category.

The committee includes collaborative partner Joe Ciminello, economic development representative Chuck Boso, community representatives Andy Furr and Christine Houk, and a non-voting member from the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Houk, one of the committee members, addressed council and questioned why she is sitting on a committee to review spending $3 million when most of that money is already spoken for.

She said as of the May 4 meeting, the racetrack redevelopment group had not even had its first meeting and council is already voting on using those funds for the Columbus Street extension project.

“Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse?” said Houk.

The Columbus Street extension is estimated to cost $900,000. The project also includes a public parking lot on the Mill Street Market site with an estimated cost of $40,000, utility work on Grant Avenue for $375,000, storm sewer improvements for $100,000 and water line replacement on Grant for an estimated $330,000.

The ordinance states that the city intends to recoup approximately $2.5 million from the racetrack redevelopment fund.

Houk questioned why the city formed the committee to identify and prioritize projects if officials already have plans for those funds.

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the state funds can be used anywhere within a mile of the racetrack.

“We know the improvements on Columbus Street are clearly in the spirit of that development fund,” said Stage. “We are trying to be prudent and quick.”

Council approved the ordinance, but after some discussion, decided to remove the language that said the city intends to recoup about $2 million from the racetrack redevelopment fund.
Stage said he was fine with taking out the text, but added that the city’s administration is still in favor of using those funds for the Columbus Street extension.

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