Permanent performing arts stage approved for Town Center Park

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By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

The stage has been set for a centerpiece at the Town Center Park.

At a recent meeting, Grove City Council approved a resolution of support for the installation of a permanent performing arts stage at the old library site. A temporary stage has been at that location for the past two years.

“We have all kinds of events being held in this space,” said Grove City Parks and Recreation Director Kim Conrad.

Conrad said the city parks staff already has plans for events held at that location for 2023 including Friday night concerts, food truck weekends, Arts in the Alley, and the Wine and Arts Festival to name a few. The Central Ohio Brass Band is also scheduled to take the stage.

According to Conrad, residents completed a survey last year that asked what people wanted to see at the old library site, located along Park Street. She said an improved and expanded stage was a common answer.

The city received a $200,000 state capital grant that was originally to be used to help fund an amphitheater at Beulah Park. Kelly Sutherland, the city’s recreation superintendent, said they were able to shift those grant dollars to cover the purchase of the stage for the Town Center Park. Once the stage has been delivered, the city will seek bids for the installation.

Even though the council signed off on the resolution, there was some hesitation as well as added amendments.

Council president Ted Berry said council was supposed to see an overall plan for that space and the city was supposed to host public meetings on the matter. Berry said this has not happened.

“I understand we have this money that we have to spend, but I’m not even sure this is where this pavilion should go,” he said.

According to Berry, the council is expected to discuss the purchase of two additional parcels in that area that could affect the layout of the space.

“Do I want a stage? Oh yes, I want a stage there,” said Berry. “I just don’t know how this all clicks together.”

Councilwoman Christine Houk said the temporary stage has been working, not just for performances, but for many purposes, like story time events from the Grove City Library and fitness classes.

“Nestling it in the center allows us maximum flexibility,” said Houk in response to Berry’s concerns of not knowing the whole layout of the space. “That, to me, is the key to this.”

Berry proposed an amendment to the resolution that requests the city’s administration submit plans for an overall park.

The amendment passed with a majority vote.

“I support the need for an overall park plan, but I don’t want to delay the grant funding we have in place,” said councilman Randy Holt.

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said previous legislation asked the administration to develop plans for this park with the space boundaries of Park Street on the north, Arbutus Avenue on the east, Civic Place on the south, and First Avenue on the west.

“Based on those boundaries, we did (develop plans for the park), and council took no action,” said Stage.

Stage said they held an open forum meeting that went nowhere. He said they tried out a temporary stage at that location and it has been successful.

“We have this experiment that worked,” said the mayor. “Now, we want to make it permanent.”

Before council voted on the resolution, councilman Roby Schottke proposed another amendment to the plan that would include building a playground like the play structure at Gantz Park. He said there is an absence of amenities for children in the downtown area.

The resolution was approved, with the amendments.

The Grove City Community Winds is scheduled to kick off the annual summer concert series with a performance for Memorial Day weekend. City officials hope to have the performing arts stage ready before that concert.

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