Grant funds Fairfield shelter house

An open shelter house will be the newest addition to Fairfield Memorial Park, the recreation facility maintained by the Fairfield Township trustees at the former site of Fairfield Elementary School on West Jefferson-Kiousville Road.

A $30,873 state NatureWorks grant will pay for the shelter house, which will measure roughly 40×60 feet and sit where a portion of the old school once stood. The sidewalk that led up to the school’s front doors will lead up to the shelter house.

“We’re tickled to death, and, hopefully, we can get the shelter house up by this summer,” said Wayne Francis, who serves as a Fairfield Township trustee with Steve Denes and Jeff Marshall.

Francis praised Vickie Timmons, the township’s fiscal officer, for handling the grant-writing duties.

“We’ve been digging for all kinds of resources to help us with this project, and this is one we stumbled upon,” he said of the NatureWorks grant.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awards NatureWorks grants to local governments for the acquisition, development and rehabilitation of recreation areas. Since the program’s inception in 1996, more than 1,300 applications totaling over $63 million have been funded.

The Fairfield shelter house will provide a shady area from which to watch the many ball games that take place on the park’s ball fields each summer. Nearly 150 youths took part in summer leagues this year, Francis said, adding that the shelter house also will make a great place for families to hold picnics and reunions.

The township trustees continue to look for more grant money to further enhance the park. The next goal is to build rest rooms, Francis said.

“We want to make the park a very, very nice facility.”

The township trustees purchased the Fairfield Elementary property at auction several years ago from the Madison-Plains Local School District. Since then, they have torn down the school, leaving behind the gymnasium, which Francis said youth and school teams use five days a week through the winter months. The property also includes an outdoor basketball court and playground equipment.

The township and the Fairfield Youth Association work together to maintain the three ball fields. Cecil McCollister, who does mowing for the township, and Mike Wilson, who is involved with the youth association, take pride in keeping the fields in tip-top shape, Francis said.

“A lot of the community use the facility all through the summer, which is something we pictured when we bought the place—that it would be somewhere for people to get together,” he said.

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