A $2.9 million project in Obetz will bring a new splash pad and ice rink to the village, along with a bike path, more parking and a large banquet hall at the nearby community center.
It is rare for a municipality to own an ice rink. This would be the first of its kind in Franklin County, operating as a splash pad in summer and an ice rink in winter. Aside from Dublin, which has a seasonal rink at Coffman Park, most communities use privately owned indoor facilities such as Chiller Ice Rinks. Columbus had an outdoor rink Downtown called the Centrum that closed in the mid-1980s.
“Obetz council is very receptive to ideas that are off the beaten path, and they’re always looking for something interesting to do for the residents, so it was an easy sell,” said former Mayor Rod Davisson, who spearheaded much of the effort. “The hard part was finding someone who could build it.”
A grid of refrigeration lines will be built underneath Lancaster Park and hooked to a compressor so that the splash pad can be flooded and frozen into an ice rink. It’ll be a junior-size rink, about 60 by 120 feet.
“The kids will love the splash pad, and we think the parents and kids would love to come out and do some skating in the wintertime,” said Village Administrator Doug Browell. “I think it’s a great idea.”
The project also includes demolition of part of the decade-old community center and the addition of a 7,300-square-foot conference center that will hold 250 people. Officials envision it as a place for local companies to hold conferences and training seminars, as well as a party banquet hall.
“We’re kinda crammed right now,” Browell said. “There’s nowhere in our town right now, or anywhere close, for a small wedding reception.”
The village is issuing $2.5 million in bonds to pay for the project. The rest will come from Obetz’s $5 million general fund. Several years ago, the village paid for an athletic center with all cash, leaving Obetz with plenty of bonding capacity, Davisson said. The conference center is expected to be finished by spring, and improvements at Lancaster Park should be ready by summer.