If Grove City builds a community center, what features should it offer?

If Grove City builds a community center, what features should it offer?

How about an ice rink? Or a planetarium?

Those were two of the suggestions offered by residents at a public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28, at Kingston Center. Around 30 residents crammed into a classroom to offer feedback to the Grove City Parks and Recreation Department about what sort of facilities they would want at a community center.

Mary Shaw said she would like to see to an outdoor running track and meeting space.

"Those kinds of areas where you do a lot of brainstorming," she said.

Susan Castle said she'd like to see pickleball courts.

Sheila Wissman, who also is an employee of the Parks and Recreation Department, said she would support space for sports.

"Everything we have, we have to rent from Southwest (South-Western) City Schools," she said.

Pete Selent said he would like an indoor shooting range instead of having to drive to Delaware to use a range, while Jim Bernholtz advocated an indoor theater or outdoor amphitheater for plays, award ceremonies and other functions.

Following a presentation of different features and trends at centers around the country, attendees were divided up into small groups to come up with ideas about what they would like to see at a center and then came together to vote on the ideas gathered.

Top vote-getters were an indoor walking/running track, an ice rink and teen activity space. Other features to receive votes included gymnastics, planetarium, teaching kitchen, fieldhouse, fitness center and meeting space.

Other ideas suggested included an indoor pool, a community police substation, a therapy section, a rock climbing wall, performance art space, indoor batting cages and more.

The meeting is just one component of a $41,000 feasibility study City Council authorized in November. The study is to determine if Grove City should build a community center, and if so, what features and programs it would have, where it would go, how big it should be and possible funding options.

"We'd like to have this process completed by July 31," said Parks and Recreation Director Kim Conrad.

Cost, location and size can't be determined until the city decides what features the facility would have, Conrad added.

"We're in the dream stage," Conrad said. "You can't put a price on something if you don't know what it'll be."

One thing is certain, Conrad said: If the city decides to pursue a community center, it would not be built on any land the city currently owns.

Running the meeting were Jeff King of Ballard King and Associates Ltd., a recreation facility planning and operation consulting firm, and Greg Galieti of MS Consultants, an engineering and architecture firm.

King said a trend for community centers around the country is to combine a number of different spaces into one building, utilize indoor and outdoor functions, make the space flexible enough for multiple uses and utilize an open design concept

"There's definitely a synergy," King said. "It's an opportunity to bring people together and create a comfortable environment."

Galieti said those conducting the study are meeting with local "stakeholders" -- businesses, the Rotary Club, the YMCA, the Lions Club and other community organizations -- as well as formulating a survey.

"This input (tonight) helps direct some of those questions," he said.

King said the feasibility study is currently in its market analysis stage: gathering statistical data about community demographics, finding gaps in current recreation offerings and collecting community input.

From there, the study will progress to program recommendations, followed by determining feasibility when it comes to capital and operations cost, location and other issues.