Canal Winchester buys land for new city park


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester crews clear out old brush and tree limbs from a Lithopolis-Winchester Road site that will one day serve residents as the largest park in the city of Canal Winchester.

Within the next three to four years, nearly 87 acres of new park land in Canal Winchester could welcome residents with ball fields, a dog park, walking trails, sand volleyball and more.

For now, the dream is still filled with waving corn stalks, old growth trees and a charming home at the end of a long driveway where city workers are clearing out decades of brush and branches.

“I’ve been working on this for the last eight and a half years,” said Canal Winchester Mayor Mike Ebert, who envisioned the park when a or sale sign went up on the 6725 Lithopolis-Winchester Road property.

According to Ebert, a contract was drafted, but the site—owned by the McGill family—was tied up in an estate. Ebert eventually lost contact with Mrs. McGill and the years passed.

Approximately a year and a half ago, the property, located on the southern edge of town along Walnut Creek, went back on the market and the city recently reached an agreement to purchase the property through owner financing from Kathleen McGill for $774,495.

Ebert said the city closed on the agreement and will make quarterly payments spread over a 10-year period. A newly-convened planning commission, in conjunction with city administrators and the general public, will bring the dream to fruition.

“We plan to develop it into multi-purpose park land, including recreation fields, trails, shelters, picnic areas and a dog park and a possible event center,” said Ebert. “Final plans for the park likely will not be available until after the Parks Planning Commission has finished its work late this year. The commission was established to review needs for all of our parks new or old no matter the size or location.”

While the site is bordered by a housing development, part of the property lies within the flood plain—deeming it unsuitable for development, but appropriate for a natural resource like a park.

While Ebert had his eye on the parcel years ago, his patience was rewarded with a lower asking price. More than eight years ago, before the recession hit and the property was taken off the market, the asking price was $1.25 million.

“Looking back, we’re in a much better position now,” said Public Service Director Matt Peoples. “In a couple of years, a large portion of our city debt is coming off the books, which is just about the time construction starts. We hope to have the fields up and running in no more than three years.”

While the city is covering the cost of acquiring the property, which will be named in honor of the McGill family, outfitting the park with facilities, fencing, fields, etc. will not fall on the shoulders of taxpayers, Ebert said.

“We do not plan to put any levy out there for the park,” said Ebert, who intends to seek funding from alternate sources. “Right now, I already have pledges of donations. I don’t think we’ll be pushing dirt until next fall. Would I like to see it quicker than that? Yes. The property already has so many features.”

Public parks commission meetings will be held later in the year to present ideas and solicit input from the community.

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  1. This really sounds awesome and as growing up here and attending school here all 12 years, I would have never imagined something like this in Canal Winchester!! I however would sure like to see city money spent on law enforcement, added officers just as added things appear in our city. We have to cover and continue to provide safety for all the new development! Think about that, and now being a little selfish, what about a bike trail from the city along the canal that would tie in with the bike path along Diley Rd all the way to Hill/256 — how awesome and wonderful that would be. Just say’n. Put it on the list, at the top if you will. OH and by the way, it was made mention of re-constructing the Sheriff in the town, how costly! Take the great protection whether you believe it or not and ADD TO IT … that is a no brainer.


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