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Commentary: End Of Horse Racing Offers Grove City Options
In March Penn National Gaming announced plans to move Grove Cityâ€™s Beulah Park horse racing to Youngstown.Â The move will reduce competition for Â Penn Nationalâ€™s West-side casino project.Â Â TheÂ decision to move the horse track affects more than just the casino.
On the one hand, the decision is bad news for Grove City. It closes a longtime attraction, with employees and visitors who support local businesses.Â Â But there is an upside.Â The move leaves Grove City with a wealth of opportunities for growth. What should replace the racetrack you ask? Letâ€™s consider at a few options.
How About A Park?
First up: a park.Â Not just any park, but a multi-component park complete with paved walking paths, basketball and tennis courts, a dog-park, and playgrounds of swing-sets. Such area would benefit the community as it could be a central recreational zone in an otherwise unwelcoming area of commercial warehouses.
Yet, Grove City already has excellent recreation options such as the Big Splash waterpark Â and the flower and herb gardens at Gantz Park.Â So a new park might just be redundant.
Second idea: a mall.Â Grove City residents now have to Â drive to Easton, Tuttle, or Eastland malls for holiday shopping and Sbarro Pizza.Â Building a mall on the Beulah Park site to a mall would provide more shopping options to the cityâ€™s residents, as well as give individuals in Morrow and Pickaway counties a closer shopping destination.
Yet, a downside to this plan is location. For a mall to succeed, it needs to be really close to a major highway. Beulah Park is a least five to 10 minutes from I-71 and the 270-loop.Â Not nearly convenient enough for mall shoppers, or mall developers.
A New Grove City Downtown
A third possibility is to resurrect Â the old Lumberyard Project Â with its plan to build condominiums, restaurants, and shops in the heart of Grove City. Â While the Stringtown Road has become the shopping hub for southern Columbus, development in the Grove Cityâ€™s older, west-side remains largely stagnant.
Grove City should maximize the potential of its historic downtown area.
It already has several restaurants, a bakery, live theater, as well as a farmers market, a wine festival, and a summer concert series. Adding condos would attract young adults looking for a small town feel with large town job prospects. Â And adding a few more Â locally-owned restaurants and shops would appeal to people wanting to avoid the Applebees on Stringtown.Â Weâ€™ve seen similar success with areas such as Westerville and Gahanna; why not also count Grove City in the mix?
These ideas are only the beginning. Â Â Regardless of whether you think a park is useful or condos are over-rated, it is clear that gambling isnâ€™t leaving Grove City; instead, city officials are throwing the dice to see what development program sticks. Â And I, for one, am chomping at the bit to see what happens next.