Progress for park plan

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By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

Grove City residents have many opinions about redevelopment in the Town Center. They want more places to eat and they want a park. The park aspect may be one step closer to fruition.

At the March 1 meeting, Grove City Council approved a resolution requesting the rezoning of several parcels of land in the Town Center for an expanded park.

“The Town Center park concept has changed many times over the years,” said Ted Berry, councilman. “This helps us identify areas to set aside for public space.”

In November of 2019, council approved legislation to preserve space in the Town Center for a park and performance area. The area targeted for a park was the former Grove City Library site on Park Street. In October of 2020, consultants presented a proposal for that site that would be like a small commons area, featuring a stage, an open area and a possible water feature. Residents heard the proposal and said it was too small. Many thought the plan would include space from areas surrounding the Park Street location.

What the new legislation does is request that the former library site, along with expansion areas to the east and south are zoned for recreation.

Councilman Roby Schottke clarified that this is a request to rezone and council would have to vote on the actual rezoning later.

Before council votes on rezoning for the properties, they want to hear more from the public about what they want in a Town Center park.

Berry said getting input from the public has been difficult due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“When the pandemic lessens, we want more public participation for a park concept,” he said. “We hope that can happen in the summer.”

Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage did have a concern about council passing the rezoning request. He said the owner of a restaurant has been looking to build in the city’s downtown area and this legislation could be interpreted as the city taking those parcels off the market to developers.

Berry said there are plenty of other spaces in the Town Center for development.

The agenda also included legislation to set aside $250,000 to remove a portion of Arbutus Avenue for intended park space. That legislation was removed and will be revisited at a later date after further public participation.

The Town Center park is part of a larger downtown redevelopment plan.

Last month, council approved a resolution accepting the Grove City Town Center conceptual framework. The goal of this is to preserve and strengthen the character of the Town Center, while enhancing economic vitality. The framework serves as a policy guide.

“This is a dynamic document,” said Stage. “It sends a message to developers that Grove City is open for business.”

Council approved a Town Center conceptual framework plan in 2018. Christine Houk, council president, said city leaders must look at development through a new lens.

“Trends change and we have to be diligent about revisiting these things,” she said.

Berry said now is the time to review the plan because what residents wanted just last year may be different from their needs today, due to the ongoing pandemic.

“People are working from home,” he said. “They need park space. They need areas to exercise. It’s all about green space now.”

Shelley Davis, with the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce offered to have the chamber facilitate a town hall style meeting for business owners, stakeholders, and residents.

“Public opinion has changed,” said Davis. “This would given them a chance to share their thoughts.”

A date and time for additional public input on downtown development has yet to be determined.

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