By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport city officials are considering ways to further enhance recreational offerings in the city’s extensive parks system.
Groveport City Council plans to select two park projects from a list of ideas for completion in 2018. Projects under consideration include resurfacing the three tennis courts in Degenhart Park, constructing a bicycle path connector to link the Bixford Green subdivision with Three Creeks Metro Park, or constructing two additional tennis courts in Degenhart Park to bring the total number of courts there to five. The courts at Degenhart Park already have lighting for night play.
There is also an option of building five new tennis courts in Groveport Park instead of adding two courts in Degenhart Park. The city’s Master Park Plan mentions the potential for constructing five tennis courts in the northern part of Groveport Park in the grassy area near Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22.
The cost estimates for the two of the proposed projects proposed for 2018 are:
•Bixford Green path to Metro Parks: $207,400.
•Degenhart Park tennis court resurfacing: $33,350.
Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall stated in October that both of the cost estimates mentioned above are from 2010 estimates put together by EMH&T for the 2008 Master Park Plan. She said the cost estimate for two additional tennis courts at Degenhart Park is $400,000, based on EMH&T’s estimate of $612,000 for five new courts and moving the sanitary sewer line.
When asked if any decision has been made yet regarding which park projects to pursue, Hall said, “We will make a decision once we have accurate figures and a plan for the tennis courts. We have contracted with a landscape architect for this work. Once decided, we will take it to council along with an appropriations amendment.”
She said updated cost estimates, as well as project start and finish times, are still to be determined.
Regarding the potential Bixford Green bike/leisure path, Hall said the length of the path and where it would connect to the park and subdivision would have to be decided in conjunction with Metro Parks.
The possible location for five tennis courts in Groveport Park as shown in the Master Park Plan could be revised after discussion with council, according to Hall.
“We will discuss possibilities with council so that current parking and electric is taken into account,” said Hall.
Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert favors adding two tennis courts to the three existing courts in Degenhart Park. She said the project would complete the city’s “tennis park” at the site
“The cost would be considerably less at Degenhart as we would only be building two courts,” said Hilbert. “They can be built east of the present courts.”
Hilbert said adding the two courts at Degenhart Park would be beneficial for the city’s adult leagues and the summer tennis recreation program for area youth.
“Right now, our summer TWC program youth have to travel 32 miles round trip to participate,” said Hilbert.
Resident Charles Glaser, whose property is near Degenhart Park, addressed council in November and said he is opposed to adding two courts at Degenhart Park. He feels more courts would spoil the small park. He believes it would be better to build the additional tennis courts at Groveport Park where there is more space and more parking available.
Councilman Scott Locket prefers to see five new tennis courts built in Groveport Park.
“The courts at Degenhart are the only tennis courts in Groveport,” said Lockett. “People come from all over southeast Columbus and suburbs to use the courts. They are used often, especially recently with making the courts pickleball friendly. The courts host pickleball groups, tennis leagues and tennis lessons almost daily.
There are vacancies during the day, but that makes it available to only a portion of residents. There have been many times I’ve seem folks leave due to a lack of availability.”
Lockett said tennis leagues typically consist of five matches and that having only three courts make it difficult to host leagues and tournaments at Degenhart Park.
Lockett said Groveport Park is a better venue for adding tennis courts.
“Degenhart Park is popular with groups and parties almost every weekend from March to November,” said Lockett. “It’s increasingly popular. Often parking overflows onto Lesleh Avenue. Adding two more courts would only increase the parking problem there. Groveport Park has more space for the courts and for parking.”
Lockett believes adding two more courts at Degenhart Park would be difficult and more expensive due to a number of issues, including drainage problems and an existing sewer line.
Councilman Shawn Cleary favors building the Bixford Green bicycle path link.
Cleary said the only nearby bike path access to Three Creeks Metro Park is through the Grove Pointe development, but that link is private so Bixford Green residents cannot use it. Instead, he said, Bixford Green cyclists and walkers have to use heavily traveled Bixby Road to reach the park.
“It’s a safety issue,” said Cleary.
Cleary said the Bixford Green Homeowners Association was once shown preliminary drawings for a bike path connection that he believes were presented by Metro Parks.
He said the homeowners association is in favor of building the bike path link.
“We can review it again with the people in the neighborhood to be sure they are still in favor of building the path,” said Cleary.
He suggested that in the future the tennis courts in Degenhart Park could be converted to pickleball courts and five new tennis courts could be built in Groveport Park to satisfy the demand if needed.
Council will discuss its parks project options at future meetings once estimated costs and more details become available. Council could make a decision in early 2018.