The next park in northwest Columbus is one step closer to reality.

City officials said they expect to close on the purchase of the Ohio State University “sheep farm” property July 15.

Brian Hoyt, spokesman for Columbus Recreation and Parks, said environmental test results revealed a small amount of fuel contamination deep in the soil but Ohio State rectified the problem.

Columbus agreed to pay $5.3 million for the nearly 60-acre parcel at 2425 W. Case Road but isn’t expected to take possession until November because the university needs time to transition from the farm, Hoyt said.

City officials also were working with Dublin City Schools officials to finalize an agreement to sell about 15 acres of the land to the district for future use. The land is bordered to the east by Slate Run and the Dublin school district’s Wright Elementary School, 2335 W. Case Road.

Creating a park was considered a big win for area residents. They had expressed fear the site would be prime space for a developer.

Although city officials are prepared to purchase the site no money is earmarked to pay for amenities to the park and no timeline for improvements, Hoyt said.

“In the short term, our goal is to make it a greenspace and look to do a simple playground and path around it to make it what we call an ‘activated park,’ ” Hoyt said, noting there is no money in the 2019 budget for the initial simple improvements.

“It gives us an opportunity to take our time to work with the community to find out what they want and factor it into future capital budgets,” Hoyt said. “We do recognize the northwest corridor is in need of usable greenspace and parks, so this will be a great opportunity for us to develop it in the future.”

Hoyt said the city would not build a community center on the site because of its proximity to the Carriage Place Community Center, 4900 Sawmill Road.

A plan to sell 34 acres to Upper Arlington for a sports park ultimately was rejected, he said.

Residents also expressed hope that the Columbus Metropolitan Library would build a branch on the site.

Last August, library spokesman Ben Zenitsky responded by saying, in part, “We are aware of this effort and have been approached by the Northwest Civic Association. It is, however, too early to state whether this is something that will move forward.”

Tony Collins, director of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, said the city would work with residents on a buildout of the greenspace.

“Part of our work is to grow smart,” Collins said. “The smart growth will forever include collaboration and partnership from the community we serve.

“We are incredibly thankful for the input we’ve received over the last few months and look forward to celebrating the purchase of much-needed parkland for Columbus residents,” he said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary