Four options regarding the proposed extension of Columbus Street and design of a town plaza to connect the Grove City Town Center to the redeveloped Beulah Park site are under consideration.

City Engineer Mike Keller of EMH&T presented the four options June 27 at a special city council meeting.

The estimated costs of the options range from $6 million to about $15.3 million. How any of the options would be funded is a question yet to be answered.

Initially, several potential concepts were considered for the town plaza, Keller said.

Based on feedback from the city administration and city council, a shared street approach to the plaza is preferred.

In the shared street plan, a narrow two-lane road would run through the plaza's center, with public space on either side of the roadway.

"The primary design aspects of that are openness and a shared public realm for pedestrians and bike traffic," Keller said.

The plaza itself would be approximately 0.4 of an acre in size, he said. As a comparison, the old library site on Park Street is about 0.7 of an acre.

The least expensive option Keller presented would involve only a roadway to connect the town center to the Beulah Park redevelopment.

The estimated total project cost would be $6.2 million. The city has already set aside $161,000 in funds, so there would be an additional cost of about $6 million.

A 10-percent contingency cost for "any potential what-ifs" is included in the estimate of each option, Keller said.

Eleven parcels would be affected in the first option, including eight relating to the Columbus Street extension and three for the closure of Grant Avenue to allow for the relocation of the railroad tracks, Keller said.

Another option involves construction of the roadway and the plaza.

The plaza project would involve an additional $1.8 million, including $470,000 in additional land acquisition and $1.4 million for construction, Keller said.

Total cost for both the roadway and plaza would be an estimated $8 million, he said.

The same 11 parcels would be affected and this option would provide no additional parking, Keller said.

An alternative for this option is for the city to only purchase the land for the plaza, but wait on building it, he said. That would allow the city to work with GC Beulah Park Investments, the group led by Pat Kelley that will redevelop the former Beulah Park site, on planning the plaza.

A third option includes adding a parking lot with 119 spaces to the project. Adding the lot would bring the total project cost to about $11.7 million, Keller said.

Four additional parcels would be impacted in this option, he said.

In the most expensive option, a two-story structure providing 150 parking spaces could be built, Keller said. There would also be 40 surface parking spaces.

The total cost of this option would be an estimated $15.3 million, with the same 15 parcels involved, he said.

Included in the estimates are about $2.1 million in land acquisition costs for the roadway, railroad crossing and Grant Avenue closure, Keller said. Additional land acquisition estimates range from $470,000 for the plaza to $1.7 million for the plaza and parking structure.

Ancillary costs included the purchase of land for a park and development of the park, he said.

Those costs could range from $2.25 million to $6.55 million depending on whether land for the park is donated or what the cost to acquire land would be and the scope of amenities and features at the park, Keller said.

The administration is not prepared to say which of the four options should be pursued, Mayor Ike Stage said.

"The reason we're not saying that is because we're not sure how the math works," he said. "What is the administration recommending and how are you going to pay for it, we don't have the answers yet."

It is imperative to create a connection between the Town Center and the redeveloped Beulah Park site, Stage said.

The potential elimination or reduction in various sources of state funding provided to municipalities add to the quandary, he said.

Steps the city could take, including cutting back on its annual street program and ending its sidewalk improvement program, would only provide a portion of the money needed, Stage said.

The city remains in negotiations with the Beulah Park developer, and there could be some potential of the developer contributing funds, city administrator Chuck Boso said.

There may be a possibility of assessing property owners who would benefit from the project or looking at additional millage, he said.

"There are a number of choices out there" and all options should be discussed, Boso said.

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