The city is hoping to add 15 acres to Hoff Woods Park, 556 McCorkle Blvd., to be used for additional sports fields for expanding team programs.

The city is hoping to add 15 acres to Hoff Woods Park, 556 McCorkle Blvd., to be used for additional sports fields for expanding team programs.

Westerville City Council heard the first reading Feb. 15 of legislation authorizing the purchase of 15 acres adjacent to the 39-acre park's eastern edge for $1.5-million from Epcon Communities. If approved, the city would pay $1.25-million upfront for the property, and the remaining $250,000 would be credited to Epcon to be used for fees related to separate future developments.

Westerville Department of Parks and Recreation director Randy Auler said the additional land would be used for sports fields.

The lacrosse program and the adult softball program both are unable to grow despite demand because there are not enough sports fields to accommodate them, Auler said. The youth football program also has outgrown its space at Heritage Park, he said.

The additional land at the park would allow for two to four sports fields and a baseball diamond, as well as additional parking. Multiple fields at the park would allow the city to host sports tournaments there, Auler said.

Though the parcel carries a Birch Street address, access to it would be through Hoff Woods Park to reduce the impact on the adjoining neighborhood, Auler said.

The 15-acre parcel was identified as ideal park space in the city's Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) plan. The purchase would be paid for by bonds funded through the city's PROS levy, Auler said. Epcon had originally planned a condominium development on the parcel but approached the city about selling the land last year.

That makes the purchase ideal for the city, Councilman Larry Jenkins said.

"Not only are we expanding a park that was at capacity, we are taking offline a condo development," he said.

When the condo development was proposed, Jenkins said, there were concerns about how it would add to the density of the area.

Though the situation is advantageous for the city, council chairman Mike Heyeck said, if the land is purchased and developed as an expansion to Hoff Woods Park, the city must be careful about any impact that would have on the nearby neighborhood.

"It might be a win-win, but I think residents might be concerned about lighting, tournaments, things like that," Heyeck said. "When we develop this, we need to take that into consideration."

City council will hear two more readings of legislation for the proposed purchase before voting on whether to purchase the property.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com

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