Columbus officials met the deadline of July 31 in entering a purchase contract for 57 acres off West Case Road, adjacent to the Ohio State University Airport.

Brian J. Hoyt, communications and marketing manager for Columbus Recreation and Parks, made the announcement Aug. 1.

The land, known as the Sheep Farm, previously was used by the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as part of the college's consolidation and reorganization efforts.

Katherine H. Cull, Columbus' North Side Neighborhood Pride Center manager, also reported the much-anticipated development during the Aug. 1 meeting of the Northwest Civic Association.

Hoots and applause greeted the news.

"Outstanding," said Nick Cipiti, president of the board of trustees.

"We're elated," said Roy Wentzel, a member of a committee formed by the civic association to lobby for public use of the property once Ohio State officials made it clear they wanted to divest the university of the land.

The July 31 deadline was included in the Ohio House of Representatives bill that approved sale of the site.

The purchase price mentioned in the agreement between the city and university is $5.2 million, according to Hoyt.

"Our future plan is to develop a greenspace park and have it be Columbus Recreation and Parks property," he said.

Cull said Columbus officials would work in conjunction with counterparts in Upper Arlington and Dublin schools to obtain the Sheep Farm.

"There's work to do going ahead, but the bottom line is the mayor and the city committed to do everything we could," Hoyt said.

Both Cull and Hoyt said the contract with OSU imposes a Dec. 31 deadline for finalizing the deal.

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther announced during a July 19 Family Community Night in the Carriage Place Community Center that city officials had intended to meet the July 31 deadline.

Also at the NWCA's first monthly session since June, Jill Frost of St. Vincent Family Center made a pitch for recruiting new families to offer foster care.

"There are a number of children in central Ohio that are at risk for a number of reasons," Cipiti said in introducing the meeting's guest speaker.

Frost is the foster-parent recruiter for St. Vincent Family Center, a behavioral health organization based downtown that was founded as an orphanage in 1875.

"Our function has always been to provide mental health services for children," Frost said.

St. Vincent Family Center contracts with Franklin County Children Services to provide foster families for children in need from birth to 18, she added.

"We want to put the family back together and send the children home, but we have to make sure that it is safe," Frost said.

The need for foster families has increased with the opioid epidemic, Frost said, adding that it is creating a situation worse than the crack cocaine addictions of the 1980s.

"We might be more accustomed to it, but the effect is still devastating on families," Frost said.

Foster parents, who must undergo 32 hours of training, receive a stipend for each child taken into a home, but that only covers expenses, according to Frost.

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