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Westgate Park getting new racquetball courts, saying goodbye to two murals

People pass in front of the Fantastic Food Garden mural at Westgate Park in summer 2016. The mural and the Camp Chase mural are being demolished as part of a full rebuild of the park's racquetball courts.
Hilltop Arts Collective
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People pass in front of the Fantastic Food Garden mural at Westgate Park in summer 2016. The mural and the Camp Chase mural are being demolished as part of a full rebuild of the park's racquetball courts.

The racquetball courts at the Hilltop’s Westgate Park are being demolished – and with them, the city is losing two murals.

Morgen Wade, capital and strategic planning administrator with Columbus Recreation and Parks Columbus, said the city had planned to renovate the courts but opted for a full rebuild for safety reasons.

“Really the only reason that we were looking initially at renovating was because of the murals,” Wade said.

The Camp Chase and Fantastic Food Garden murals will be no more, but their removal makes way for three new racquetball courts and a pickleball court. Wade put early estimates of the cost for the redesign at about $300,000.

“We're getting a great mix of being able to keep the amenity that we had (and) keep a version of the amenity that we had (and) add in pickleball, which we know that there's a huge demand for,” Wade said.

The racquetball courts, which were also used for handball, have been closed since July, because the surrounding walls with the murals were found to be unstable.

The city took high-resolution photos of both murals so they can potentially be reproduced on a plaque or kiosk. A third mural on a gypsum board was saved and is being stored until it can be hung in the rec center, Wade said.

Curtis Goldstein painted the Camp Chase mural in 2009. Danielle Poling and Aaron Grover finished The Fantastic Food Garden in 2016.

The city plans to put new murals around the courts and will work with the Hilltop Arts Collective to select artists, Wade said.

Construction on the new courts is set to start later this spring.

Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.