Grove City Record

Racetrack departure spells end for balloon festival

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The closing of Beulah Park has popped Balloons and Tunes.

Balloons and Tunes, Grove City's annual hot air balloon and music festival held at Beulah Park, has been canceled, Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage announced at the Grove City Council meeting Monday, April 21.

Beulah Park is scheduled to hold its final races on May 3, and close after that, and the closing has made it too difficult for the city to pull off Balloons and Tunes.

"It became a logistical nightmare," Stage said.

However, the city will still have its annual fireworks show, Blast at Beulah, this Fourth of July at Beulah Park. Stage said the fireworks show is more manageable because the event uses less of the park.

Stage said the city also plans to launch a new event next year called the Grove City EcoFest, that will include two-day festivities and the same partners that previously supported Balloons and Tunes, including Mount Carmel Health System, Byers Auto and Sherwin-Williams. The event will be designed to highlight all the LEED-certified projects in Grove City.

"(It'll be) much like Balloons and Tunes, but there won't be any balloons," Stage said. "This will be in 2015."

Penn National Gaming, owners of the 213-acre racetrack site, is moving Beulah Park's racing license to Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley, near Youngstown, which to open as a racetrack and casino this fall.

Local development firm Continental Real Estate Cos. is in negotiation with Penn National to purchase and redevelop the track property.

In other news from Grove City Council's meeting Monday:

* Council approved a pair of changes to the city's codified ordinances. The first, pertaining to criminal child enticement, was made to match recent changes in state law after a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court.

"All we're doing is adopting the changes the state is making," City Law Director Stephen Smith said.

Specifically, the Ohio Supreme Court raised concerns that the law could potentially be used to criminalize non-criminal activity, so the law was amended to be applied to "any unlawful purpose," Smith said.

* In response to ongoing problems with false alarms, council passed an ordinance setting up a service charge payment system.

Smith said the city responded to about 4,200 alarm calls last year, half of which turned out to be false.

"We have a huge problem with false alarms," he said.

While the city previously established a service charge for false alarms, it lacked a mechanism to collect the charges. Under the changes approved, the city public safety director is now authorized to serve a written notice to property owners, lessees, agent and tenants notifying them of the false alarm and any service charge that may be due. Currently, the city issues three warnings for false alarms before issuing a service charge.

If the service charge is not paid after 30 days, it will now be assessed against the property and collected with property taxes.

According to city code, service charges increase based on the number of false alarms per year and whether the alarm holder is residential or business. Residential alarm holders' fees range between $50 and $100 while the fee is between $50 and $200 for business holders.

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