Council approves $2.6 million to start NexusPark design

Columbus City Council has approved a $2.6 million dollar spending plan to move ahead with turning parts of the former Fair Oaks Mall into a parks facility for the city, but that’s over the objections of a single councilwoman.

Councilwoman Elaine Hilber said she was opposing the spending because none of the money would go to improvements or plans at the aging and crumbling Donner Center.

Columbus City Council was asked to give its final approval to the spending appropriation this week. It includes architect fees for about $1.5 million and a construction manager for about $685,000, along with just over $442,000 to be used for various expenses including demolishing the former Goodies store space, permits and other necessities to get the project started.

The first phase for the city will include a fieldhouse where the former Goodies store now stands, and administration offices for the city parks department, fitness areas and locker rooms and activity spaces.

Mary Ferdon, director of administration and community development for the city, and parks director Mark Jones addressed Hilber’s concerns, saying that much of the parks department administration and functions would be moved from Donner to the new facility, to be called NexusPark. And until those plans are fleshed out in the NexusPark design, there is no way to judge the future needs for Donner.

City Council gave its final approval to the spending at its meeting Tuesday with Hilber voting against the proposal.