Grove City Recshool will return to Gantz Park

By Andrea Cordle

Grove City Editor

 

The Recschool in Grove City is going home.

This is a rendering of the Gantz Park Recschool Program Center.

At a recent meeting, city council approved a development plan for the Gantz Park Recschool Program Center. This will be a 3,417 square foot building in Gantz Park, the original site of the program that aims to educate preschool-aged children.

“Everybody is anxious to get back into their own spaces,” said Grove City Parks and Recreation Director Kim Conrad.

The Recschool program has been held at the Kingston Center for the last year. It was housed in the big red barn at Gantz Park, but in the summer of 2022, city officials discovered that a colony of bats were living in the building. According to William Vedra, deputy city administrator for the city, the bats caused extensive damage to the barn. He said bat waste was found in the wood, dry wall, ceiling tiles, duct work, and into the concrete block walls.

Though city leaders tried to save the barn that had been at the park for about a century, the decision was made to demolish the building.

“We are not confident that we can make the structure safe for people, especially for young kids,” said Vedra in 2022 when the decision was made. “Economically, it makes more sense to demolish the building. There was just so much contamination.”

According to Conrad, city staff and residents gave their input to the architects to help shape the new building at Gantz Park. It will be in the same area in the park as the former barn and will include a deck off the back of the building that overlooks the park.

“It should be really, really nice,” said Conrad.

The parks and recreation director said the new space will include three classrooms. Two of the classrooms will be for educating children and one would be used as a multi-purpose space for play, training, or community events.

Conrad said with the size of the space, the Recschool should be able to increase its number of students from 136 up to 150.

The Grove City Recschool is a nature-based learning program. Conrad said the students get outside, into the park where nature is incorporated into the lesson plans. She admits that this type of programming has been a challenge to implement since leaving the park setting.

“It’s been difficult at Kingston to continue with the nature-based program,” said Conrad. “We had to be very creative and bring nature in.”

Council members were pleased to see the school going back to its original space.

Council president Christine Houk said city staff should be proud that they were still able to provide the service to children after the situation with the bat colony.

“I’m happy to see we’re at this point today,” she said.

Councilwoman Jodi Burroughs added, “I’m so excited to see this come to fruition.”

The bidding process for the new structure will begin in the next few months and Conrad said they hope to start construction this year.

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