By Linda Dillman
Growing interest in other sports and a shocking price tag forced Canal Winchester back to the drawing table in designing another phase of the city’s McGill Park.
“The last time we presented this (concept plan) was in late 2022 or early 2023,” said Canal Winchester Administrator Matt Peoples during Canal Winchester City Council’s Jan. 17 meeting.
The plan included three baseball fields, a concession stand with restrooms, shelter house, playground, play area and parking areas and the cost was $6 million.
“It was sticker shock,” said Peoples. “We came up with another concept.”
The new concept involves fewer baseball fields and more multi-purpose fields that can accommodate football, lacrosse, and soccer, even in open areas for smaller fields for younger players.
According to Peoples, the new concept design takes the cost down to approximately $3.7 million and provides more flexibility.
Development Director Lucas Haire said the city applied for $1.5 million in state capital grant funding—designated for public purposes—for the McGill Park project.
New library public hearing
A public hearing is set for Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. for a trio of appeals by a resident regarding the site setback variance, site plan, and conditional use requests regarding the construction of the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s proposed new Groveport Road branch.
The city requires a 150 foot setback between a public use building and a residentially zoned parcel. The library proposed a 73.3 foot setback on the west side of the building and 136.9 feet on the east side.
While staff recommended approval of the request as presented during a Dec. 11 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, the variance request was turned down by the commission. The library asked for approval of a conditional use request and a site development plan in December, both of which were tabled by the commission until their January meeting. All three requests were approved during the commission’s Jan. 8 meeting.
The property is currently zoned low density residential.
In an open letter to the community issued prior to the January P&Z meeting, CML CEO Patrick Losinski, trustees board President Catherine Strauss, and Vice President Tom Katzenmeyer noted the city’s recently approved Community Plan includes a reference to a stand alone library.
“While we are pleased that the city considers the library an important part of its future, these plans were developed without any CML input or knowledge of the process and includes a description and image of our 21-year-old New Albany Branch,” according to the letter.
Final plans for the 30,000 square foot Canal Winchester branch, according to CML, feature a modern architectural style with clear glazing and metal architectural panels along the façade.
In a P&Z December meeting summary, the tiered flat roof, angular wall sections, and projecting metal louvers were described as breaking up the façade. The report also noted the building, as designed, as “atypical” for the area.
In their letter, the trio cautioned “CML faces significant escalation costs in this challenging construction environment (with each delay). If we cannot move forward, while our commitment to Canal Winchester remains, we may need to defer this project until our next building cycle and apply these resources to other pressing capital needs within the CML system.”
During the Jan. 17 council work session, Construction Services Director Bill Sims said the city will extend sidewalks to the library intersection, but not curbs.
“The addition of curbs creates drainage issues,” said Sims, who said curb construction necessitates a certain amount of grading and raising or lowering the road. “I don’t see curbs at this point. I don’t recollect that amount of improvements on Groveport Road in the near future at all.”