KidSpace building’s future still in limbo

By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
The future of Crooked Alley KidSpace building, located at 630 Wirt Road in Groveport, could be decided soon.

Groveport City Council will most likely postpone a vote on the future of the Crooked Alley KidSpace building until its April 8 meeting.

The delay is because council will not be at full strength at its March 25 meeting and council members want all six members to be present for the vote.

The 3,100 square foot KidSpace building, located at 630 Wirt Road, was built in 1955 and was originally the Groveport Municipal Building for many years and later was home to the senior center. KidSpace moved into the building in the early 2000s after the senior center moved to the Groveport Recreation Center.

Council must decide if it wants to demolish the KidSpace building – at an estimated cost of $30,000 – or repair it at an approximate cost of $800,000.

According to Groveport Public Services Director Brian Strayer, the building needs the following: a new roof, new electrical panel, upgraded HVAC, exterior brick tuck pointing, repairs to a “significant” crack on the east side of the building, repairs to the main floor which has settled and cracked, window replacements, repairs to rusted window transoms, new gutters, interior and exterior painting, and elimination of mold.

City officials said demolishing the building would allow for the creation of expanded public parking in the downtown area.

“We are looking how best to maximize the existing parking area,” said Groveport City Administrator B.J. King.

King said several downtown area businesses have expressed a need for more public parking and the city is looking at options. Currently the downtown public parking lots south of Main Street along Wirt Road are often full. Another downtown public parking lot with about 99 spaces is located on the north side of Main Street near Ace Hardware and Delaney’s.

Council is considering two pieces of legislation to address the situation. One would authorize King to solicit bids and contract for the re-alignment and expansion of the existing municipal parking lot situated along Wirt Road, Crooked Alley, and Cherry Street.

Groveport City Engineer Steve Farst said this proposed parking expansion would increase the parking capacity in the lot to approximately 100 to 112 spaces from the current 60 spaces.

“If approved, the plan associated with this project would include the demolition of KidSpace and the closure of a portion of Cherry Street to combine these properties with the existing municipal parking lot property,” said King.

The second ordinance would authorize King to contract with Leukco Construction for the buildout of the second floor of the Rarey’s Port building on Main Street (above Delaney’s Diner).

“That space is proposed to be used as the new location of KidSpace activities as well as conference room space,” said King.

Another option to be considered is to either donate or lease the KidSpace building to American Legion Robert Dutro Post 486.

“We need a home base. We have not had a permanent home,” said American Legion Robert Dutro Post 486 Commander Josh Saunders representing the 50 members of the post, which currently meets at the Madison Township Community Center.

The Post hopes to also use the building as community space for events and blood drives as well as space for satellite offices for veterans assistance agencies. According to members of the Post, this would make veterans assistance more accessible to the over 868 veterans and their families in the Groveport, Canal Winchester and Madison Township areas. The building has also served as a voting location.

Saunders said the Post could have repairs made to the building by obtaining various grants.

“Taxpayers would not have to pay for the repairs and it would give the building a new lease on life,” said Saunders, who added there would be no alcohol or gambling on the premises. “We can save this building that has been in the community many years and have it keep serving the community.”

Groveport Law Director Kevin Shannon said if the city were to decide to lease the building to the Post, details about who would make repairs and perform ongoing maintenance on the structure would need to be specified.

Councilman Shawn Cleary said that if the city decides to lease the building to the Post that the city “should not put a dime into it” for repairs.

Councilman Jack Rupp said he would like to see city officials explore other options in town besides the KidSpace building as a potential home for the Post.

Council President Ed Dildine said he respects veterans organizations, but the ability to enhance public parking in the historic downtown outweighs keeping the KidSpace building.
“I think we can find somewhere in town for a home for the veterans group,” said Dildine. “We have space, but KidSpace is not it. Downtowns die from a lack of parking. If we want businesses to thrive we need parking. I like to look at the big picture of what is needed for the entire community. There has to be a compromise somewhere to find a home for the veterans group.”

The KidSpace building also includes two public art works – a mural on an interior wall depicting Groveport during the 19th century Ohio and Erie Canal era and a Groveport Elementary School student art project on an exterior wall.

Council will most likely vote on the issue at its April 8 meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal building, 655 Blacklick St.

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