GREENVILLE — If all goes according to plan, visitors to Greenville City Park may find something old is new once again.
Developmentally disabled clients at Person Centered Services (PCS) Darke Career and Life Improvement Center, 5844 Jaysville-St. Johns Road, in Greenville, are hoping to reopen and sell food and drinks at the “roundhouse” in the park, which has been closed for many years.
Director of PCS Darke Career and Life Improvement Center Mark Middlecoff said this isn’t the first time the group has wanted to utilize the structure.
“I think it was about 10 years ago, when this was Wayne Industries, I tried to open it, and was unsuccessful on this end,” he said. “We were just kind of in the infancy of community integration at the time. Once PCS came in and privatized it, the individuals are absolutely number one — what they want comes first.”
Wayne Industries was acquired by Person Centered Services beginning in January 2016.
News of the potential opening elicited a large number of positive responses on the PCS Facebook page from the community.
“You have no idea how many summer hours I spent hanging out there back in the late 60’s and early 70’s,” posted Cindy Larkins.
Beth Cottrell Cooley wrote, “Lots of great memories playing in the park and then getting snow cones at the concession house!”
For Middlecoff, the opportunity to reopen the roundhouse hits home in more ways than one.
“I live right there in the park, so that’s part of my walking route every day,” he explained. “And I walk by and see that empty building and I can remember when we used to jump on our bikes and ride across town just to go to the roundhouse — not to get anything special, but it was cool to get something at the roundhouse.”
“I think [the roundhouse] is almost the focal point of the park that’s just not been open for many years. And it’s really not in that bad of shape. We have a little screen work to do, some painting,” he added.
The opportunity to reopen the roundhouse is also an opportunity for PCS clients to further broaden their community involvement.
“With our individuals here, we are looking for community integration, and they love community integration,” said Middlecoff. “We do the flags downtown and the flower boxes, veteran’s meals every week. Plus, it supplies them with excellent job training. They’re the happiest bunch of people you will ever meet.”
The plan to open the roundhouse, however, does face some hurdles.
Dale Musser, Greenville City Park Board Chairman, said the group will have to jump through some bureaucratic “hoops” before the vision becomes the reality.
When asked what PCS must still do, Musser said, “Making sure that all things are legal thru the city attorney, the health department, all criteria are met, and the city can not provide funding for supplies.”
Despite the speed bumps, Musser expressed his personal hope that the project will come to fruition.
“It would be great for the roundhouse to be open again, and providing an opportunity for PSC to be active in the community,” he said.
As well, PCS would be required to lease the building from the park, at a yet undetermined fee. Final approval from the Park Board and Greenville City Council is required before the project can proceed.
The reopening of the roundhouse would be one of a number of park improvement projects that has the board excited this year.
“The atmosphere at the park is greatly improving,” said Musser. “The Marling Band Shell, food trucks, the possibility of the roundhouse [opening]. Although it is not a part of the park, the new track and proposed football stadium and field are all great assets for out community.”
If and when approval is given, Middlecoff describes his clients as “ready to go.”
“We’ve gotten such a huge community response from it,” he said. “We’ve got people who have offered to volunteer their time to come in and work with us, which is absolutely excellent for everybody.”
“Another good aspect about being out and part of the community is, they can take their family by and say ‘Look what we did today.’ It’s very gratifying for them. And that’s a big change from 10 years ago, definitely in a positive direction,” he added.
What items will be served and the hours of operation have already been considered.
“We’re going to try Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this first year, first season, which should run through about October,” said Middlecoff. “I’d like to get into football season too. And then as we see how it goes, we might try some weekends, band concerts.”
“I know they have some vendors that come in and I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, but we’re going to offer ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, candy, popcorn, coffee, hot chocolate. We’ll be offering pre-packaged sandwiches and salads, so if anyone wants lunch who works in the park area, they won’t have to travel out to eat.”
Three community outreach groups which will rotate at the roundhouse, each four or five in size, with ages ranging from 18 to 72. There will be PCS staffers on hand each day to supervise.
“Everybody gets a shot,” said Middlecoff. “Anybody in the building that wants to go can go. We have several who will make wonderful greeters out front.”
For more information on PCS, visit the organization’s website at www.pcs4dd.com/darke-county-greenville-center.html or call 937-548-6025.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com