December 19, 2014

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North Ridgeville seeks to expand South Central Park

For sale signs at South Central Park have gotten residents worried, but the park is not for sale.

For sale signs at South Central Park have gotten residents worried, but the park is not for sale.

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — South Central Park is not for sale.

For sale signs put up in the past week or so at two spots, including the park’s main entrance, may have caused some double takes, but city officials assured the community the park isn’t going anywhere.

Rather, it is seeking to buy the plots that are for sale by John T. O’Neill, who owns two small parcels of land that extend off state Route 83 back to a fence line marking the boundary of the 30-acre park.

If acquired, one of the pieces of property most likely will be used to build a fifth tennis court for the community and North Ridgeville High School’s tennis program.

“The city has an easement through the area now, and we’d like to own the property,” Mayor David Gillock said. “We’ve always been interested in them and now we’re having discussions.”

Ken Keiffer, a real estate agent, confirmed O’Neill has owned the land for some time and is now looking to sell it. Keiffer estimated each parcel is about six-tenths to seventh-tenths of an acre in size.

O’Neill’s family owns and operates a number of nursing homes and senior living complexes in the area, including North Ridgeville’s Center Ridge Health Campus.

There are no immediate plans for a second piece of land near Route 83 and Bainbridge Road that O’Neill also is selling that the city is hoping to acquire.

“We’re not looking to build anything there, but we might go in and clean it out for something down the road,” Gillock said of the wooded parcel located near the Safetyville complex.

“Anytime we can get a small parcel of land adjacent to the park, we take a look at it,” Gillock said.

The addition of a fifth tennis court would be a boost to the city schools’ tennis program, according to Kevin Fougerousse, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

South Central’s existing four tennis courts are used by the high school’s boys and girls tennis teams. A fifth court would enhance the school system’s chances of hosting tennis matches staged by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, Fougerousse said.

Phone calls to Matt Yunker, athletic director at North Ridgeville High School, were not returned Monday.

“The courts are in relatively good shape although they are going to need resurfacing and new fencing,” Fougerousse said.

The tennis courts also are used by local residents as well as children playing in summer and fall youth tennis programs.

“Every time I’m out there I see a lot of players, even though (tennis is) not as popular as it used to be,” Fougerousse said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.