By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
When the Grove City Library was relocated to Broadway, there was much discussion about what to do with the former site on Park Street. Last year, council voted to preserve the space for a Town Center park. A concept design for that park was presented to the community at the Oct. 19 Grove City Council meeting.
Aaron Domini, with OHM Advisors, said the goal of the park is to build opportunities for gatherings and draw people to the Town Center.
“We want this to be something that can host dozens and dozens of events,” said Domini.
He presented a concept that is like a mini commons area, featuring a stage and entertainment venue, a large promenade, and a lawn area. The concept also included a water feature, like a splash pad or skating rink in the winter. The estimated cost of this concept would be approximately $2.5 million.
“This can draw in families and it gives the city flexibility with activities and programming,” said Domini.
Grove City Parks and Recreation Director Kim Conrad reminded community and council members that this was only a concept and there was room for change. She said the idea was presented to the park board in August and they liked the direction.
“They were very pleased with the plan,” said Conrad.
Park board member Sam Clark called it “a breath of fresh air.”
Not everyone was on board with the plan. Several community members and a few council members had issues with the park concept.
Councilman Ted Berry said this was not what he envisioned for that space.
“People are clamoring for open space and green space,” said Berry. “This is a lot jammed into a small area.”
Council president Christine Houk said only nine stakeholders were interviewed to help come up with this concept.
“We really dropped the ball on public input,” she said. “This is a product of the people and we want to hear from residents.”
Residents questioned city leaders about why the vacant city-owned lot at the southeast corner of Park Street and Arbutus Avenue was not included in the design plan.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said last year, council voted to preserve space in the Town Center at the former library site. That legislation included the old library site, bounded by Park Street on the north, Arbutus Avenue on the east, Civic Place on the south and First Avenue on the west. The legislation did not include the lots adjacent to the property.
When the library was relocated, Grove City resident Gregg Smurthwaite collected more than 600 signatures from fellow citizens to turn that space into a park or something the community could enjoy. He did not want the city to sell to a developer.
Smurthwaite addressed council about the proposed concept and said it is not adequate.
“This park should be something to enhance life and spread joy,” said Smurthwaite. “It is just too small.”
Local resident Robert Sommers asked council to consider amending the original legislation to include new boundaries and make the space larger.
“We want a larger park to get out and get away,” he said. “This is not what the residents want or deserve.”
City Administrator Chuck Boso said the proposal is for the old library site that is just over one acre in size. He said if the city were to include the Arbutus Avenue property and the vacant land adjacent to the library site, the size of land would increase by about an acre.
Boso also said council and community members should consider that there is a proposed park for the Beulah Park redevelopment, which would be close to the park on Park Street.
The Beulah park would be around 30 acres in size. Under its concept, the park would hold community events and include an amphitheater, open spaces, and trails.
Regarding the proposed Park Street concept, Houk said there are still many unanswered questions, and this is just the beginning of the discussion on the matter.
Stage said city leaders would consider the feedback received and reboot the project.