A sizable chunk of what was known as the "sheep farm" across from Don Scott Field in northwest Columbus might become athletic fields for the city of Upper Arlington.
Columbus officials said they plan to pay Ohio State University $5.2 million for 57.7 acres on the south side of West Case Road near Sawmill Road.
Residents of the area have said they wanted the city to do so to prevent developers from buying the land.>> Dublin City Schools may purchase portion of OSU 'sheep farm' <<
But the city has been talking to Upper Arlington about selling 34 of those acres to the suburb, and an additional 15 acres to Dublin City Schools for future use.
The site is adjacent to Dublin's Wright Elementary School.
That angers some neighbors, including Roy Wentzel, who pushed the city to buy the property from OSU.
"We don't want their sports fields in our parks," Wentzel said.
"The citizens of northwest Columbus would be appalled and insulted if this happens."
Nick Cipiti, who leads the Northwest Civic Association, said that although his group and residents didn't want the land to become a high-density development, they're concerned about the plans to sell off the bulk of the land.
"We're all disappointed to a degree," Cipiti said.
Brian Hoyt, spokesman for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, said the city wants to maintain green space while recouping some of the cost of its purchase, which was not budgeted.
"If there is an opportunity for us to mitigate some of the unplanned costs and maintain green space, we see that as a great opportunity," Hoyt said.
"Residents may have other ideas as to what to have on that land," he said. (We) don't want to give the impression everything is a done deal."
If the sales go through, the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department would be left with 8.7 acres.
Recreation and parks officials had scheduled a meeting on the plan for Oct. 3 in the Carriage Place Community Center, 4900 Sawmill Road.
"There needs to be a benefit for the residents and children of northwest Columbus as well," said Mike Stinziano, a Columbus city councilman
He said he doesn't want to overreact until he gets the final details.
Columbus City Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown, who leads the recreation and parks committee, said there's enough space on the site for Upper Arlington, Dublin schools and Columbus residents, but it must be for Columbus residents first and foremost.
"The whole point (of) going through (with) the deal on that site was to look out for our own Recreation and Parks (Department)," she said.
Upper Arlington wants to buy the land because the landlocked suburb needs more space, said Debbie McLaughlin, the city's parks and recreation director.
"It would be very hard to get the size of acreage (in Upper Arlington) for athletic fields," McLaughlin said.
She said Arlington would build baseball and softball diamonds, plus a field for soccer, lacrosse and football. There also would be six or seven "mini fields" for young children.
Upper Arlington organizations would get priority in using the fields, she said.
Dublin schools officials said they also need land.
"Our schools are already overcrowded, and the Board of Education took the opportunity to purchase this land for future district use that could otherwise have been housing, and that is a positive for our community," said district spokesman Doug Baker.
Both Upper Arlington and Dublin would pay the same price per acre $90,121.32 -- as Columbus is paying. That would mean Upper Arlington would pay $3.06 million for 34 acres and Dublin schools $1.35 million for the 15 acres.
"We were interested in a collaborative effort that would benefit us all," said Robin Davis, a spokeswoman for Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.
Stinziano said legislation on Columbus' purchase of the property from Ohio State was expected to be introduced Oct. 1. The city and OSU have until Dec. 31 to close the deal.
Upper Arlington City Council will have a first reading on legislation for its purchase Oct. 8.