Don't call it a facilities plan.

Grandview Heights' Growing on Tradition community planning process has two parts: a community plan designed to help set guidelines that will allow the city to shape future development; and the Civic Spaces and Places study, to help determine what "our community's wants and desires are" regarding city property, Mayor Ray DeGraw said.

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But Way said the word facilities does not mean just physical buildings."At the heart of it is the city's evaluation of its civic facilities," said Kim Way, principal at NBBJ, the Columbus firm that is leading the Spaces and Places planning process.

"As we begin talking with the administration about this process, we realized this should be about more than just the police station, fire department and City Hall," he said. "It should encompass a broader look at all of the city's civic spaces, including parks. That's why we're referring to it as a Spaces and Places study and not a facilities plan."

"Our residents have an expectation regarding the level of services we provide, but they also have some ideas about the type of programs and activities they would like us to get involved in," DeGraw said.

The problem is that, as a landlocked community, Grandview has only so much land, and that includes civic property, he said.

That property includes the Municipal Building and fire station; the parks and service departments on Goodale Boulevard; Wallace Community Gardens; the municipal pool; Wyman Woods, McKinley Field, Pierce Field and Buck parks; and community space at Grandview Yard, including First Avenue Park.

"Before we can make any decisions regarding our facilities, we need a really good understanding of what we need to provide the services our residents expect and what our residents want in community activities and programs," DeGraw said.

"That's why it's so important to have our residents engaged in this process," he said.

The success of a community strategic planning process requires residents' involvement and acceptance of the final result, Way said.

"The community has to feel they have had a voice in the process," he said.

Speaking their mind

More than 100 residents attended the first Growing on Tradition community engagement meeting April 10.

The next meeting will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, in the Wyman Woods shelter house.

The response to the first meeting was instructive and encouraging, Way said.

Residents were "very engaged and focused," as they met in small groups around tables, he said.

"One of the valuable results of the meeting was that people were meeting and hearing from people who might have different ideas or interests than they do," Way said. "The discussion was intense but respectful."

The Spaces and Places component of the April 10 meeting included a mapping activity where attendees identified areas currently serving civic needs, areas that have the potential to serve civic needs and their favorite and least-favorite civic space or place.

Areas in the community frequently cited as having the opportunity to further serve civic needs included city gateways -- the southern entry at Grandview Avenue and Goodale Boulevard, and northern gateway at Grandview Avenue and Third Avenue -- as well as Grandview Yard and First Avenue Park; Stevenson Elementary School and the high school; and the Goodale Boulevard corridor.

"The schools are sites that people indicated could be used more as civic spaces to meet community needs," Way said.

The gateway corridor at Grandview Avenue off U.S. Route 33 was highlighted as an area where additional measures could be taken to enhance its civic use, he said. That could include improvements to the Wallace Gardens and McKinley Field.

While the Spaces and Places process includes open space and community activity elements, the city's Municipal Building -- which houses the administration, finance department, police department and firehouse -- and other public buildings will not be overlooked, DeGraw said.

"We know what our needs in (the Municipal Building) are," he said.

"We've done studies on that in the past and identified those needs. It's pretty tight in here at times. I have to give our employees who work in the building a lot of credit -- they haven't let any of that detract from the work they do."

The Municipal Building site is at the heart of the Places and Spaces study, Way said.

One of the important outcomes will be determining the size and scope of improving the municipal facilities, he said.

Off-site opportunity

While Grandview is landlocked, about 2 acres will become available for community use next year when the service and building departments and parks and maintenance equipment and vehicles are moved to about 4.3 acres of land the city purchased on McKinley Avenue. The property is located just outside Grandview in the city of Columbus.

Construction of the new McKinley Avenue facility is expected to begin in the fall and is set to be completed by September 2019, DeGraw said.

"It's a fast, aggressive schedule," he said.

The service and building offices will take up about 6,000 square feet of space. About 21,000 to 22,000 square feet will be used to store the equipment and vehicles.

The city also will use a portion of the building for storage of police materials, DeGraw said.

"We currently lease space off-site for that storage, and moving that into the new building will save us some money," he said.

Finance Director Bob Dvoraczky said the city pays rent, water and electric bills for the building where the police department currently stores materials, including evidence.

The cost is about $1,750 a month, or $21,000 annually.

The lease agreement will be terminated once the new service department facility is open, he said.

The new building also will provide some meeting space that could be used by community groups and organizations, DeGraw said, but not by City Council, boards and commissions, since those meetings must be held in Grandview.

The meeting space offered at the Municipal Building is limited, he said.

While the library, school district and the Grand Event Center at the Yard offer space that community groups can use, Grandview is in need of additional meeting space, DeGraw said.

The McKinley site also will offer some open green space, DeGraw said.

While how that green space might be used is an open question, the vacant land is expected to be of sufficient size for a soccer field for 12-and-under players, he said.

The Spaces and Places process also will help determine how the current service department location might be used and whether a revision of how the Municipal Building property is configured should be considered, DeGraw said.

'Most efficient use'

The city has about 45 acres of parkland, including the municipal pool and the Grandview Center, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Patterson said.

"The challenge for us is trying to make the best and most efficient use of that space to provide the best recreational opportunities for our residents," he said.

The Grandview Center formerly was known as the senior center.

The name change reflected "that the building is used by all ages groups of our community," Patterson said. "We have activities going on throughout the day into the evening hours nearly every day."

To accommodate more programming, the main activity room in the center often is divided into two or three areas, he said.

"It's not unusual to have two or three activities going on at once," Patterson said.

The demand for recreation is changing, DeGraw said.

"Twenty or 30 years ago, you could have some ball fields and the municipal pool and that went a long way," he said. "Over the years, people have become more interested in other sports, like soccer and tennis."

An example of how the parks department is responding to new trends is its pickleball program.

In pickleball, players use large paddles to hit a plastic ball over a net.

"It's kind of a combination of tennis, pingpong and badminton," Patterson said. "It's exploding in popularity. It's similar to playing tennis, but doesn't require as much of a skill level, so people of all ages and skills can play."

A pickleball court has smaller dimensions and a shorter net than tennis, so the courts at Pierce Field were reconfigured for the program, which meets from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Mondays through Sept. 24, as well as 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 27.

The parks department hears many suggestions for new programs and ways to expand or enhance existing activities, Patterson said.

One idea that is being explored was proposed by Grandview Heights High School softball coach Tori Lynch.

Lynch suggested installing a batting cage at Pierce Field that her players and other teams could use, Patterson said.

A number of comments offered by participants in the April 10 meeting reflect some of the interests shared in the community, Way said.

Those suggestions included the need for a dog park in Grandview; a preschool or daycare facility; additional multiuse and event/meeting spaces; an expanded recreation center; and better use of First Avenue Park at Grandview Yard.

First Avenue Park mostly is used as an area for passive recreation and events.

"There is the question of whether you could use that space at least in part for more-active recreational activities," DeGraw said.

The city always is open to re-evaluating how its park spaces could be used, Patterson said.

"When your space is limited, you have to be creative on how you use and reuse your space," he said.

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