© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Commentary: End Of Horse Racing Offers Grove City Options

In March Penn National Gaming announced plans to move Grove City’s Beulah Park horse racing to Youngstown.  The move will reduce competition for  Penn National’s West-side casino project.   The  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.   But there is an upside.  The move leaves Grove City with a wealth of opportunities for growth. What should replace the racetrack you ask? Let’s consider at a few options. How About A Park? First up: a park.  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  and the flower and herb gardens at Gantz Park.  So a new park might just be redundant. A Mall? Second idea: a mall.  Grove City residents now have to  drive to Easton, Tuttle, or Eastland malls for holiday shopping and Sbarro Pizza.  Building a mall on the Beulah Park site to a mall would provide more shopping options to the city’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.  Not nearly convenient enough for mall shoppers, or mall developers. A New Grove City Downtown A third possibility is to resurrect  the old Lumberyard Project  with its plan to build condominiums, restaurants, and shops in the heart of Grove City.  While the Stringtown Road has become the shopping hub for southern Columbus, development in the Grove City’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.  And adding a few more  locally-owned restaurants and shops would appeal to people wanting to avoid the Applebees on Stringtown.  We’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.   Regardless of whether you think a park is useful or condos are over-rated, it is clear that gambling isn’t leaving Grove City; instead, city officials are throwing the dice to see what development program sticks.  And I, for one, am chomping at the bit to see what happens next.