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Worthington Seeks Public Input For UMCH Property


UPDATED: Sunday October 6, 2013 12:34 AM

The City of Worthington is in the beginning phase of updating the community's vision for the United Methodist Children's Home (UMCH) property.

The 41 acre property was once home to Worthington's United Methodist Children's Home for troubled kids.

The residential treatment was eliminated last year, and now city leaders have been working with developers to determine what's next for the space in the heart of the city, and encouraging the public's input.

Close to 100 Worthington residents joined planning consultants to tour the property and share their ideas and visions for the site Saturday morning.

"We're envisioning things like a splash park, amphitheatre and really draw people to the city and say what a community asset we have here," said Steven Putka with Worthington Alliance for Responsible Development (WARD.)

Putka says although the planning is in its infancy, residents have already rejected the big box concept and managed to keep Giant Eagle at bay.

"The plan was to have 80 thousand square feet of Giant Eagle with semi's facing the immediate neighbors and people looked at that and said in no way is this going to have a positive impact on the community," he said.

Chris Hermann with Columbus based developer MKSK says the non-binding citizen driven framework is considering residential, commercial and green space or some combination of the three.

"I think the answer is going to be moving more toward the middle and how do we mix some of these uses in a way that helps respond to the market and the needs of the city and would it be something that the marketplace and the city would actually be interested in," said Hermann.

Putka and many others during the tour said that they were pleased developers are listening to the people who have to live with what ultimately ends up occupying this space.

MKSK will continue developing concepts and share them with public during a meeting scheduled for December 4th.

A proposal will then be shared with Worthington City Council, along with the city's planning commission and architectural-review board. All three will need to give approval. The land must also be rezoned from its current institutional use.

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