Hilliard leaders are poised to reveal the latest plan to build an ADA-accessible baseball diamond in the community.
Plans for a Miracle Field near Bo Jackson's Elite Sports, 4696 Cosgray Road, had been put on hold last year.
Ed Merritt, director of the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department, is expected to update Hilliard City Council at 7 p.m. Monday, July 13, said David Ball, director of communications for the city.
The meeting will be a virtual session on the city's Facebook page, Ball said, but residents who wish to address council on the issue, or any other, will be permitted to enter council chambers individually.
Residents are asked to enter the Hilliard Municipal Building, 3800 Municipal Way, and sign in with their name and address before the start of the meeting, Ball said. They then will be instructed to wait outside, he said.
A city employee will call for the resident to reenter at the appropriate time to address council, Ball said. Only one resident at a time will be permitted to enter, and residents should be prepared to wait, he said.
City leaders want residents to have the opportunity to address council in person, Ball said.
Although no decision has been made, Merritt's proposal is for the construction of an accessible baseball diamond, not necessarily a Miracle Field, which is a trademarked brand, at a site other than the land known as the Grener tract adjacent to Bo Jackson's Elite Sports.
The Grener tract, known as such locally because of the family who once lived there, is on the east side of Cosgray, west of Leppert Road and south of Hayden Run Road.
The city purchased almost 104 acres of the Grener tract from Hilliard City Schools in 2014 for $4 million. In 2003, the district had purchased 124 acres for $50,000 per acre from the Grener family as a potential site for Hilliard Bradley High School.
One possible alternative site for the ball diamond is Father Rodric J. DiPietro Park, 3481 Davidson Road, adjacent to St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church, Ball said.
In addition, a site in Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park, 3800 Veterans Memorial Drive, had been suggested in September 2019 when council opted to postpone the project.
Last year, Hilliard had awarded a bid of $400,175 to Boss Excavating & Grading to install water and sewer lines at the Grener Sports Complex site, partly within the 104 acres the city had purchased in 2014. The complex was expected to include several soccer and lacrosse fields and a Vertical Adventures rock- and rope-climbing facility.
The land lease that Vertical Adventures had with the city for the facility has expired and the project is on indefinite hold, Ball said July 2.
Hilliard solicited bids last year for the construction of the Miracle Field while trying to meet a deadline to complete its construction by June 30 in order to receive a $400,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
But last year, after receiving a one-year extension on that deadline – to June 30, 2021 – council members said they wanted to take time to decide the Miracle Field location, and they took the additional step of nixing the water-and-sewer-line project in order to complete a water-and-sewer master plan first.
The city twice had solicited bids for the Miracle Field based on an engineer's estimate of $1.4 million, but it did not receive any bids either time.
Specific vendors are required for construction of a Miracle Field, Merritt said.
A Miracle Field enables adults and children with a variety of physical or mental challenges to play baseball, including events organized by the Miracle League of Central Ohio, on a field that can accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
One of the league's Miracle Fields is near Hilliard, at Darree Fields Park, 6259 Cosgray Road in Dublin.
In addition, in 2016, when Merritt was recreation supervisor for Grove City, the city opted to build the Grove City Dream Field in lieu of a branded Miracle Field, he said.
Recently, Hilliard leaders suggested a rezoning on part of the Grener land to allow it to be used for a data center if the city were approached to consider such a use.
A deed restriction that limits its use for recreational purposes would be lifted if the rezoning is approved, according to city officials.
A second reading and public hearing for the rezoning ordinance is slated July 13.
The 104 acres to be rezoned would include 84 owned by the city and 20 owned by the school district.
City Manager Michelle Crandall said a data center is a "good secondary use" for the land.
Crandall said the city does not have the current financing to advance development of the land for recreational purposes in the near future.
"The next best use is a data center, (and) we want to be ready if (an opportunity) comes before us," Crandall said.