By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire said the city recently received notification of a $450,828 ODNR Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant for a trail from McGill Park to the covered bridge.
The city applied for the 50 percent matching grant in February 2019. The total budget for the trail is $901,656, which will serve as a connector between the city’s existing trail system in the James Kelly Preserve at the covered bridge on the west end and the newly developed McGill Park along Walnut Creek.
“It (the trail) will give residents a place to participate in healthy activities and interact with nature,” said Haire. “It will expose residents to a beautiful part of the city of Canal Winchester adjacent to Walnut Creek. The trail will be an amenity that all residents of Canal Winchester can use regardless of age or physical abilities. We’re excited to have this portion of the park complete early in the development of McGill Park. Residents will be able to use the park and experience the beauty of this piece of land and understand why we wanted it to be preserved for the use of all of the community.”
According to Haire, the grant will allow the city to complete more of the planned improvements to McGill Park within an expedited time frame, starting with the first phase later this year, which includes athletic fields, a playground, shelter houses, utilities, an access drive and parking.
“The trail will connect to these amenities when complete,” Haire said.
The estimated cost for the first phase of improvements at McGill Park, including items previously mentioned, is approximately $2.1 million. The city was awarded a $500,000 grant last year to complete improvements through the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“We are awaiting a final signed agreement so that we may begin this phase of work later this year,” said Haire. “Our hope would be to bid the projects together and complete them at the same time.”
The city previously received an ODNR $100,000 Nature Works grant to complete improvements to Westchester Park, including additional playground equipment, a shelter house, expanded parking, and enhancement of an existing nature trail.
“With the three grants combined, the city has received over $1 million in grant funding related to parks in less than two years,” said Haire. “This is a direct result of the Master Parks Plan that the city completed in 2017 and adopted in 2018. This set the direction for the improvements that were necessary and gained the public input and support to pursue these plans. Having this document assisted in writing all of the grants and showed the scoring committee that there was community engagement and support for these improvements.”