Gahanna likely will be home to a state-of-the-art training center that provides instruction to workers in the field of natural gas.

Gahanna likely will be home to a state-of-the-art training center that provides instruction to workers in the field of natural gas.

The Gahanna Planning Commission on May 11 approved a final development plan by Pizzuti Cos. for a Columbia Gas training center at 1600 Eastgate Parkway.

Planning and zoning administrator Bonnie Gard said the campus would include an approximately 28,000-square-foot building, a mini village, a fire school, a pipe yard and a backhoe digging school.

"Folks come in here and can be trained in a classroom," she said. "Behind it is a mini village set up with gas meters. It's all controlled.

"There's an outside yard, too. There's a pipe yard where there will be hands-on experience working on gas pipes. There's also a backhoe digging school. They will also have the opportunity to share this facility with regional fire departments as a great training tool."

Gard said the training center, which would be in operation in early 2017, would employ 14 full-timers on site, with several trainees coming to the city.

"There will be weekslong training, and they will stay here and put money in restaurants and motels in the city of Gahanna," she said. "This is a perfect place for it, and we're proud they chose Gahanna to put this in."

The total investment in the new training facility is estimated at $38 million over 20 years.

Commission chairman Don Shepherd said he hopes the city is looking forward to the facility as much as he is.

"I think this is an excellent, fantastic project you're bringing," he said. "Hopefully, it will save lives, employees and citizens."

Pizzuti executive vice president Jim Miller said he estimates the training center would be completed in the first quarter of 2017.

For more on this story, read the May 19 edition of ThisWeek Rocky Fork Enterprise.