GC council sets aside funds for Town Center

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Rebecca Sommer, from the Sommer House Gallery in Grove City, has a holiday wish that the city will put the gears in motion and come up with a development plan for the Town Center.

"There is no development going on," she said. "I hear talk of it, but no action."

Sommer is now closer to having her holiday wish come true. At the Dec. 3 Grove City Council meeting, council passed an ordinance to appropriate $130,450 from the general fund for the Town Center plan. The ordinance would authorize the city administrator to enter into a contract with Lincoln Street Studio for that plan but the signing has been put off until at least Jan. 30.

"We have been waiting a long time to see the area developed," said Bonnie Trice, owner of Act Two in downtown Grove City. "How much longer do we have to wait," she asked.

Finance Chairman and Councilman Richard "Ike" Stage said planning for the Town Center has already started to some degree. He explained, during a special meeting on the topic in June, that the city created a downtown development plan approximately 21 years ago that is currently about 60 percent complete. City leaders would like to finish the rest of that plan, which would include the development of the old lumberyard site, within the next decade.

The funds for contracting the plan have been set aside but Stage explained that the signing of the contract would be delayed until the new administration is on board.

"Our point person for this project would be the new deputy city administrator," said Stage. "We should give that person time to get familiar with the plan."

City Administrator Sharon Reichard said there should not be much of a delay by holding off on signing.

"We want to get it right and give the new administration a chance to look at it," said Reichard.

She explained that the contract would likely be signed in February.

Frank Elmer, of Lincoln Street Studio, said he looks forward to working with the city.

"I have always had a soft spot for this community," said Elmer. "We will push hard and fast to get this project underway."

New position

Part of the contract signing delay is due to a new position created in the city. During the meeting, council approved an ordinance that would add a deputy city administrator to the staff. The person who fills this position would be under the immediate supervision of the city administrator. Stage explained that there is currently nothing in the city code that dictates who takes over responsibilities of the city administrator while that person is absent.

This position was to be appointed by the mayor, but an amendment passed by council now says the city administrator will have that job. The deputy city administrator could be a full-time or part-time position. It would pay a minimum of $51,000 annually to a maximum of $65,000 for full-time. A part-time deputy city administrator would make half that amount.

Council President, Richard Lester voted against the ordinance.

In other news

•Council approved an ordinance that would allow T-Mobile to install an antenna tower at 2650 London-Groveport Road, behind the Jackson Township Fire Station.

The antenna will be a 160 foot monopole that will serve T-Mobile customers in that area of the city. Some of the revenue generated from the tower will go towards upgrades at the fire department.

Council passed the ordinance despite resistance to the location of the cell tower. Stage explained that T-Mobile was asked to find a location more "aesthetically pleasing."

"I’m not sure they did that," Stage said. "This is not what we intended."

Council had asked the company to review alternate sites so a cell tower would not stick up on State Route 665, after the city put forth funds to repair the road.

Representative from T-Mobile said they did explore other options but the location on 665 fit in zoning codes and was the best option.

•Council passed a measure to appropriate $180,000 from the general fund for slide improvements at The Big Splash.

The water park was built in 1999 and was constructed with the intention of adding a second slide on the existing slide tower. Kim Conrad, director of Grove City Parks and Recreation said this additional slide was frequently requested by members of The Big Splash.

It should be ready to ride when the park opens in the summer.

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