Park Users Fight Proposed High Rise In Heart Of Italian Village

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UPDATED: Wednesday January 8, 2014 9:01 PM

A petition is circulating in the Italian Village neighborhood seeking to protect an urban park from a high-rise development project.

The proposed Parkside on Pearl is a seven story building with 52 apartments that would be located a block off North High Street, in the heart of Italian Village.

The developers say they "want to be good neighbors," while residents say the developers are trying to turn their park into a backyard for a high rise building.

Nancy Patzer and members of the Martha Walker Garden Club have spent years planting and weeding the Italian Village Park.

It is one of the few green spaces left in this Short North neighborhood.

"Innumerable hours we've invested in this park, and it's all been a community effort - it's all pro bono, in-kind, contributions," Patzer said.

Fifteen years ago, she said, the park was an eyesore and magnet for crime.

"In any urban area, I think it means a lot to have green space, because a lot of us don't have large yards," she said.

A preliminary rendering of the high-rise apartments and office space shows the proposed buildings would be located on the west side of the park.

The developer, the Wood Companies, tells 10TV that the project will require a 20 foot easement at the edge of the park, a "no build" area that would remain park space.

Italian Village Society President Larry Totzke says he's concerned that would encroach on the eight-tenths of an acre park.

"The damage that this could do to that part of the park -- there are several mature trees that have to be removed in order to construct this building," Totzke said. "There's also damage that will be done to the irrigation system that we have in the park."

The developers concede some trees will need to be removed and a planned pavilion relocated to the other end of the park.

The Italian Village Commission has approved the plan, but Columbus City Council hasn't yet been presented with the proposal.

Neighbors say all the good that's been planted here is now at stake.

"With new developments like The Hub going in, and the density getting higher and higher in this neighborhood, I think it's easy to forget that this neighborhood is a single family neighborhood," Patzer said.

The developer has not yet filed a zoning variance with the city.

Currently, there is no timetable for when city council will make a decision on the proposal.

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