Grove City officials expect future redevelopment of Beulah Park likely will contain a mix of uses, including residential, commercial and civic to attract a variety of residents and businesses.
In an informal meeting held after the regular City Council meeting Feb. 3, officials discussed potential goals, concepts and ideas for Beulah Park after owner Penn National Gaming Inc. relocates its racing license to Youngstown later this year.
Racing at the 91-year-old local thoroughbred racetrack will end on Derby Day, May 3.
"To say this is a humongous task is an understatement," said Councilman Steve Bennett. "We've only got one chance to get this right."
Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said what to do with Beulah Park once its racing days are over is hardly a new subject.
"It's an evolution," Stage said. "We've agreed since Day 1 it's probably going to be mixed use. ... We've tried to position ourselves the best we can."
Planning and Development Officer Kyle Rauch said the city's development department began working on conceptual framework plan for redeveloping the property shortly after Penn National announced the move.
"We're trying to identify how Grove City can capitalize on having this land mass," he said. "You don't want to just throw away the past."
The Beulah Park conceptual framework created by the development department, released last fall, identifies five redevelopment principles: highlighting the historical significance of Beulah, making it a community gathering place, promoting connectivity with the Town Center, emphasizing quality design and providing a net fiscal benefit for city.
Joe Ciminello, owner of Ciminello Inc., which developed the Pinnacle Golf Club and housing development, also presented possible ideas for Beulah at the request of council.
"You have an opportunity that's unmatched in central Ohio," he said.
Ciminello said the residential component would be the "key to bringing out the whole potential benefit" of the development. He also said connectivity would be important, possibly by extending Columbus Street and Cleveland Avenue.
"You need some way to connect (Beulah) to the Town Center," he said.
The concept Ciminello presented included single-family homes along the west side of Beulah and slightly wrapped around the north with a denser residential aspect closer to the Town Center along with civic space around the old finish line.
"These are just ideas," Ciminello said.
Council President Ted Berry said council is looking for community feedback.
"We're not rushing out to buy anything," he said. "I'm not married to any idea."
Councilwoman Laura Lanese said council wants to hear residents' ideas.
"It's a beautiful piece of property," she said. "Not very many communities have this opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it."
Berry said council will have another meeting to discuss Beulah Park within the next 30 to 45 days.