Grove City Council voted 4-1 Monday night, Aug. 18, to extend Columbus Street northwest of Broadway, along the edge of the site where a new Grove City Library branch has been planned.
The vote came despite several residents in the crowd of almost 100 speaking against the plan, and pointing out it ignores recommendations of the city's just-completed $30,000 study.
Grove City Administrator Chuck Boso presented the amended extension plan, designed to limit the impact on the library site, at a meeting of the Southwest Public Libraries Board of Trustees Aug. 12.
Previous proposals for an extension called for extending Columbus Street straight across Broadway and then bending into Mill Street, a plan that would have greatly reduced the new library's frontage on Broadway, which library trustees criticized. Under the plan approved Monday, the library would lose 5 feet of frontage on Broadway.
Other elements of the new concept included adding 91 parking spaces directly behind the library site, as well as an additional 78 parking spaces behind the shops along Broadway. Thirty-three parking spaces also would be added behind the Mill Street Market.
"We wanted to maintain parking and access to the north of the site," said Mike Keller of the engineering firm EMH&T, who with Boso presented the plan to library trustees Aug. 12.
It also identifies potential routes for both a pedestrian corridor and a road connector between the library and the Pizzuti Cos.' proposed residential and commercial project at the current City Hall site.
"This is still a work in progress," Keller said. "We're trying to blend these ideas together."
Boso said the modified extension plan addresses everyone's concerns, as it minimizes the impact on the planned library and allows for future additional connectivity between the Town Center and a redeveloped Beulah Park.
"There's no one in this room not in favor of a new, quality Grove City library," Boso said.
Construction was to begin on the $14 million new library this summer but has been delayed by the road extension debate.
Jennifer Son of Braun & Steidl Architects, the architect hired for the library project, on Aug. 12 said the firm would have to go back in the schematic design phase to determine what changes would be needed to the library building to fit the new concept. She said that process could take as long as two more months.
"It would be premature to speculate ... what those changes might be," she said. "I would be remiss if I said it would be the same building ... (but) we don't feel this impairs our ability to deliver a fantastic library."
Library trustees Aug. 12 were receptive of the new proposal but had some reservations.
"My initial reaction is favorable," said trustee Jill Billman-Royer. "It's also fair to say my concerns aren't on the design. ... I think we were all at a point we thought we had a win-win before."
Trustee Pattie Moncman said the city and library board had an agreement, adding that it's the "fear" of the board that another plan could emerge in the future to interfere with any new agreement.
"That's the biggest obstacle for us: the trust issue," said board president Lisa Leasure. "We just don't want to go through this again and have the rug pulled out from under us."
Grove City Council President Ted Berry and members Steven Bennett, Jeffrey Davis and Maria Klemack-McGraw voted for the extension Aug. 18. Councilwoman Laura Lanese voted no.
The Southwest Public Libraries board scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday night, Aug. 19, after press time for the ThisWeek Grove City Record, to discuss its options after the council vote.
--with contributions from Columbus Dispatch reporter Earl Rinehart