The opportunity for the City to acquire 34 acres of land on Case Road for the development of a field sports facility is making its way through the public review process. At the October 1 Council Conference Session, Parks & Recreation Director Debbie McLaughlin gave a detailed presentation on the proposal. This included an overview of the current condition of our sports fields, which are heavily programmed and therefore not afforded time for rest and restoration, details of the current unmet needs arising from the lack of facilities, and the impacts sports programming can have on passive park uses that other residents wish to enjoy.
An overview of the proposed partnership with the City of Columbus and Dublin City Schools was also provided. Columbus would make the initial purchase of the 57.7 acre parcel from OSU, which is currently in use as a sheep farm. Columbus would retain approximately eight acres to include a playground, walking paths, parking and the retention of an historic farmhouse located on the property. Dublin City Schools would purchase approximately 15 acres on the east side of the property, to be set aside for future use by Wright Elementary School, but that would become passive greenspace within the park during the interim. Upper Arlington would purchase approximately 34 acres for its sports field proposal, with one preliminary concept identifying enough space for four ball diamonds, three full-size sports fields and six smaller sports fields, as well as ample parking and storage facilities.
While Upper Arlington would lead the design and development process, Columbus would be a partner at all stages, along with various stakeholder groups, so that the overall park design would be cohesive and meet the needs of our various constituencies. Upon completion, the two entities would develop shared-use and maintenance agreements. Priority would be given to Upper Arlington community sports leagues.
From a financial perspective, acquisition of the land would cost approximately $3.1 million or $91,228 per acre. This is quite a bargain when you compare it to the cost of land in UA these days—which can be up to $1 million per acre depending on location. The City would issue bonds for the purchase, made payable over 20-30 years. City Council could also direct the City to use $450,000 from the 2016 sale of property on Upper Chelsea, which has been held for a purpose such as this.
Design and development of the park would cost approximately $4 million, depending on the final design elements, such as number of fields and the type of amenities included. This would likely occur over a four-year period and would be programmed within the City’s 10-Year Capital Improvement Program. The City would also be proactive in its efforts to secure alternate funding, a practice that has been successful for many past projects, from reconstruction of the Northam Park parking lot, to the shared use path along Fifth Avenue—both examples of partnership projects with other entities.
Next steps in the public review process are as follows:
- City Council Meeting, 7:30 pm, Monday, October 8 – proposed legislation authorizing the purchase of the property will receive its first reading with a public hearing.
- Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, 6:30 pm, Wednesday, October 10 – this special meeting will provide an opportunity for the board to learn about the progress made exploring this opportunity, and for residents to ask questions and share their thoughts.
- City Council Meeting, 7:30 pm, Monday, October 22 – Staff will provide an update on the project, with opportunity for public comments.
- Council Conference Session, 7:30 pm, Monday, November 19 – the proposed legislation will receive its second reading with a public hearing, and with Council expected to vote on the proposal.
All meetings will be held at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.
The City has also created a quick online survey to gather feedback from residents who are unable to attend any of the public meetings. The survey will be available through Friday, November 2.
As we all know, Upper Arlington is a landlocked, built out community and few opportunities exist for expanding park space within our borders. We certainly hope that you will take some time to learn more about this issue in the coming weeks and let us know what you think by either attending a meeting or completing the survey. Click here for more on this proposal.