Residents of northwest Columbus, who for years had dreaded the possible impact from development of the Ohio State University Agriculture Department land -- commonly referred to as the Sheep Farm -- adjacent to the Ohio State University Airport continued last week to be optimistic about the future of the nearly 60-acre site.
Their fears had been that where sheep once grazed off West Case Road would become a traffic-snarling, property value-plunging, massive apartment complex.
Those fears were transformed into hope by remarks Mayor Andrew J. Ginther made at his July 19 Family Community Night in the Carriage Place Community Center.
Ginther said -- to the cheers of many of those in attendance -- city officials were working on a letter of intent to obtain the property by a July 31 deadline.
The mayor's spokeswoman confirmed that still was the case in a July 24 email.
"We are on track with the timeline the mayor announced last week," wrote Robin Davis, director of media relations for Ginther. "We are in the process of negotiations for the land for park use."
Northwest Civic Association President Nick Cipiti, who was unable to attend the Family Community Night, said it was welcome news.
"I was very pleased to hear about the mayor's announcement," he wrote in an email.
"The Sheep Farm Committee has been working very hard to get us to this point. I understand there are other stakeholders in the negotiation mix, but we have no reason to doubt that we are close to an agreement as the Mayor has stated," Cipiti wrote.
"I hope that (the) NWCA will have a seat at the table when it comes time to set the direction and work out the details for development after the sale.
"This is a very exciting time for us."
"We're very happy, very pleased that the city is going to purchase the land," said Roy Wentzel, a member of the committee that was formed to lobby OSU officials in behalf of residents.
"We still would advocate that the Columbus Metropolitan Library would be willing to build a library on the site. We still would like to see a community hub, like a recreation center.
"If Carriage Place was expanded and a path was built to connect with the Sheep Farm Park, that would suffice."
"I'm encouraged," said Kit Logsdon, a member of the Northwest Civic Association board of trustees.
"I'm glad that no one dropped the ball. I have the feeling that they have the funding together in some way."
OSU officials obtained permission from the state legislature to divest itself of the 58 acres at 2400 W. Case Road, ratcheting up residents' worries about the potential impact of redevelopment.
However, OSU Associate Vice President of Fiscal Planning and Real Estate Keith Meyers, speaking at the Nov. 1 meeting of the NWCA trustees, said the wants and worries of residents would be taken into account in developing guidelines for the future of the Sheep Farm.
"We've never done this before," he said at the time.
Wentzel said the Sheep Farm Committee would continue stay involved as the future unfolds.
"We're going to keep advocating and hopefully sometime in the future we will make it what the neighbors have asked for," he added. "We certainly are thrilled that the city is negotiating with the university."