Grove City Record

Grove City funds study of extending Columbus Street

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Grove City will spend $30,000 to study a possible extension of Columbus Street through the proposed new library site.

At its meeting on Monday, June 16, City Council passed by a vote of 4-1 an ordinance authorizing spending for the study. It will examine a discussed plan to extend Columbus Street through the edge of the site where the new Grove City Library is to be built, at the corner of Grant Street and Broadway, through to the Beulah Park property.

Council President Ted Berry, Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw, Councilman Jeff Davis and Councilwoman Laura Lanese voted for the measure. Councilman Steve Bennett dissented.

Bennett, who favors extending Columbus Street, said he was against spending more money on another study.

"We already had the study done to say it should go through," he said, citing the green frame outlined in the 2008 Grove City Town Center Plan. "In that study, we acknowledge Columbus Street should go through."

The legislation for a study passed as an emergency, putting it into effect immediately so the library development remains on track while the plan is reviewed, according to the ordinance.

Braun & Steidl Architects, the library project's architect, will study the plan while the city will conduct a "retail impact analysis" to see how much land could be opened up for future development on back parcels. The city also will explore alternative options for extending Columbus Street that do not infringe on the library contract.

An amendment, proposed by Davis, that would have limited the study to alternative options that didn't infringe on the contract, taking the Phase I plan off the table, was defeated 3-2.

"There may well be other additional options that don't infringe on the library site," Davis said. "We've only had one plan shown to us."

The city originally agreed to the location of the library in December 2012 as part of the redevelopment plan presented by the Pizzuti Cos., and last year, the city and the Southwest Public Libraries Board of Trustees agreed to financial terms to partner on the project.

The idea of extending Columbus Street emerged earlier this year as part of discussion surrounding the redevelopment of the 213-acre Beulah Park site as a way to promote connectivity between Beulah and Town Center.

The Continental Real Estate Cos. now is in contract with Penn National Gaming to buy and redevelop Beulah Park, said Continental founder and Chairman Frank Kass.

Kass said the company is working on possible mixed-use plans and talking with the city to determine if those plans have merit, but it will be another month or so before Continental is ready to make its plans public.

"It's a large parcel," Kass said. "We think there's potential."

As for a possible extension of Columbus Street to improve connectivity to Beulah, Kass said the site has connectivity through Southwest Boulevard.

"I think it's already well connected," Kass said. "We're not looking at changing the character of the nearby streets. ... We're dealing with the limitations of the site as we see it."

Last week, Braun & Steidl Architects presented a concept for the new 48,000-square-foot library that would give 160 feet of frontage on Broadway. In a letter to City Administrator Chuck Boso and Southwest Public Libraries Director Mark Shaw dated June 6, Braun & Steidl said a straight extension of Columbus Street through the proposed site would reduce the frontage to 70 feet and decrease operational efficiency by forcing the construction of a long, narrow building.

In a letter to Boso, Shaw wrote, "SPL is hopeful that Grove City Council will use the Braun & Steidl Report to end discussion of extending Columbus Street through the planned library site and pursue alternative means to connect the Town Center to the Beulah Park site."

Instead, the conversation was renewed at a special council meeting June 9, when Karen Dover, owner of the Mill Street Market located next door to the new library site; Rod Arter, a design consultant retained by Dover; and Joe Ciminello, developer of the Pinnacle Golf Club and housing development, offered an idea for an extension that would cross Broadway and bend into Mill Street, part of which would be vacated.

This plan also would cut into the library's planned footprint, but to a smaller extent. In a letter to the city, Dover also said she is willing swap some land to accommodate the needs of the library.

At the library board meeting June 10, trustees said they weren't opposed to improving connectivity between downtown and Beulah -- but not at the expense of the library or a construction delay.

"I think we need to proceed with the parcels that have already been given to us as well as look at the new design," said Trustee Patti Moncman. "If the new design doesn't work, then we've lost time. ... We have a responsibility to the library and the library patrons."

Bennett said extending Columbus Street also is a safety issue with the increased traffic the new library will bring.

"There is no traffic control at Grant Street," he said. "Columbus Street is a natural street to pull through."

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