A city study does not recommend tying Columbus Street into Mill Street through the proposed new Grove City Library site, but a majority of Grove City Council still favors the extension.
It was standing room only in Grove City Council Chambers Monday evening, Aug. 4, as representatives of the Pizzuti Cos., Braun & Steidl Architects and other firms discussed the findings of a study to determine the feasibility of extending Columbus Street through the previously decided site of a new Grove City Library, at the intersection of Broadway and Grant Street as a "retail impact analysis" to see how much land could be opened up for future development on back parcels.
While the consultants who conducted the study recommend modifying the original library plan to improve access and parking and help promote development in adjacent parcels, they did not recommend extending Columbus Street.
Jennifer Son of Braun & Steidl said an extension would diminish the library's frontage on Broadway. The frontage on Broadway, she said, is critical to an urban development plan to make it attractive for pedestrians.
"It's an opportunity you don't want to diminish," Son said.
DiSalvo Development Advisors, a real estate market research analysis firm, found that, "The placement of the library in the Town Center has far greater impact on retail opportunities than the proposed extension," although the firm's findings noted the access and currently proposed orientation of the library does not optimize economic development opportunities.
The firm E.P. Ferris and Associates, which conducted a traffic study of the proposal, concluded there was no "significant advantage" from a traffic standpoint to relocate Mill Street to align with Columbus Street.
"We recommend that Mill Street be retained at its existing location and signalized with Columbus Street," according to E.P. Ferris' report.
Overall, the report recommends adding a second entrance to the library, adding a traffic signal at Mill Street and Broadway -- linked to the existing light at Columbus Street -- encouraging a development timeline for properties adjacent to the library site and seeking more parking adjacent to the library site.
However, some council members, citing concerns about safety and economic development in the Town Center, said they support extending Columbus Street.
"Columbus Street should be extended to Mill Street even if we do nothing else," said Council President Ted Berry. "That intersection is dangerous ... (and) we've got to allow for future expansion and future economic opportunities."
Councilman Steve Bennett said the extension would be valuable to the long-term viability of the Town Center.
"What brings people down here is business, and we need to encourage it," Bennett said. "(The library) is a part of the community. It is not the community. Let's do it in a responsible way that promotes growth."
Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw said she's a supporter of the library but was disappointed when the preliminary concept for the project didn't factor in the extension.
"We want to do what is right for Grove City," she said.
Councilwoman Laura Lanese said the city should honor its commitment with the library.
"My preference is for the library to build (as planned) where they are," she said.
Councilman Jeff Davis said he understands there are conflicting visions, but city made a commitment.
"I believe in this project," he said.
The idea for an extension of Columbus Street was presented earlier this year by developer Joe Ciminello as part of a proposal of ideas for the redevelopment of Beulah Park. Braun & Steidl warned that a straight -through extension of Columbus Street would decrease the operational efficiency of the library.
Council approved the study for $30,000 on June 16, after Ciminello, along with Karen Dover, co-owner of the adjacent Mill Street Market shopping center, presented a proposal for extending Columbus Street by bending it into Mill Street, with the portion of Mill closest to Broadway to be vacated.
As part of the proposal, Dover and center co-owner Neil Baker said they would swap some land to accommodate the needs of the library, including parking.
The Southwest Public Libraries Board of Trustees is scheduled to host an open house to discuss latest plans for the new library from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, at the current Grove City Library, 3359 Park St., in the lower-level meeting room.
The board is not expected to take action on the study until its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, at the Westland Area Library, 4740 West Broad St.