Park financing plan approved

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By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

The city of Grove City will issue notes in the amount of $9 million to develop a park at the Beulah property.

Council approved the legislation at the May 17 meeting with a 3-2 vote.

In March, council approved a master plan for city parks, including the park at Beulah.

“This is the financing piece,” said councilman and finance chair Randy Holt.

Nearly $6 million of the funds would be used for the site development, which includes grading, stormwater and utility work, irrigation, landscaping, and parking. The additional funds would be used for play areas and structures.

According to city documents, the $9 million note will be converted to bonds with 20 years of semi-annual debt payments of principal and interest. The bonds would be dated approximately April 1, 2022 and will have an interest rate of 6 percent.

Council president Christine Houk, who voted against the ordinance, said she has concerns about financing this park with debt.

“We have a good deal of debt tied up in Beulah with infrastructure,” said Houk. “We have a responsibility to be good stewards of public dollars. We should do it the right way and not take on additional debt.”

Councilman Aaron Schlabach also voted against the legislation, saying he was against financing the park with debt.

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said the city can afford the $9 million and said they have flexibility.

“We are not spending all the money next week,” said Stage. “We can do it in a way to protect the city financially.”

Councilman Roby Schottke, who voted in favor of the ordinance, asked if the city could pay back the $9 million loan with Beulah TIF money. The answer to that question from Finance Director Michael Turner was no.

According to Turner, the TIF would be used first to pay back the city for $5 million in infrastructure improvements. If the TIF performs well, the city would use the extra funds to pay for the $6 million tied up in the Columbus Street extension.

“I do not believe the TIF will generate enough funds to pay back $9 million for the park,” said Turner.

The majority of council thought the park was a good investment.

“We spend millions on urban sprawl and infrastructure for growth,” said councilman Ted Berry. “It’s time to put green space first and put money toward natural areas. It will enhance the quality of life.”

The park at Beulah is about 30 acres in size. Plans for the park include an amphitheater, playgrounds, shelter houses, a fitness station, and a pickleball court.

Grove City resident Elijah Smurthwaite addressed council and said the Town Center Park was supposed to have an amphitheater.

“All the money is going into the park at Beulah,” said Smurthwaite.

He said the Town Center revitalization efforts are losing ground.

Stage said the plans for the Town Center park, the Beulah park and a Pinnacle park are now in the works.

Berry said the planning process for the Town Center park is not as far along as the planning for Beulah.

“The Town Center park is in no way taking a back seat to any park,” Berry said.

The councilman said the city will host a public meeting sometime this summer to gather input on the Town Center park.

For more information on park projects, visit www.grovecityohio.gov.

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