By Linda Dillman
As McGill Park rises from farmland in Canal Winchester, the city is working to fund amenities without tapping entirely into city coffers.
During a Jan. 22 Canal Winchester City Council work session, Public Service Director Matt Peoples reported on application work for a Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant for a proposed park trail running along Walnut Creek and Washington Street to the covered bridge trail.
“The grant is up to $500,000 and we are still determining project cost,” said Peoples.
Development Director Lucas Haire said the grant, if approved by the state, is an 80/20 match with the costliest items estimated to be bridges and stream crossings.
An application for a $500,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, the maximum allowed under the LWCF program, was previously approved and submitted for the first phase of the park project.
“The idea is to try to leverage every source of funding,” said Haire when asked about covering costs for the entire $7.5 million park project, including all proposed amenities. “We’re also looking on the private side for private grants as well.”
Peoples said the first phase of the McGill project is estimated to cost $2.3 million, a portion of which would be funded by the $500,000 LWCF grant, if approved.
When finished, the nearly 87 acres of new city park land could welcome residents with ballfields, a dog park, walking trails, sand volleyball and more. The wish list also includes an event center.
Nearly two years ago, the city started the process to purchase the property—located on the southern edge of town along Walnut Creek—through owner financing from Kathleen McGill for $774,495.
More than eight years ago, before the recession hit and the property was taken off the market, the asking price was $1.25 million.
Under the agreement, Canal Winchester is making quarterly payments spread over a 10-year period. A newly-convened park planning commission, in conjunction with city administrators and the general public, is working on park plans and designs.
While the site is bordered by a housing development, part of the property lies within the floodplain—deeming it unsuitable for development, but appropriate for a natural resource like a park.
Water Reclamation Superintendent Steve Smith gave a year-end report of highlights of his department, including a record of zero personal injuries in 2018.
Smith said a new NPDES (discharge) permit “reflected our good stewardship of Walnut Creek and did not impose additional limitations. Savings to the city should amount to over $1 million over the life of the permit.”
While the opening of Brewdog showed an average increase in incoming sewage strength of 154 percent, there were no NPDES violations and sludge production increased by only 125 percent.
“With 2,900 wet tons hauled, and a population estimate of 10,000 (including a brewery waste adjustment), each person created 376 lbs of sludge, or a block of wet sludge 1.7 feet cubed,” Smith said.
There were 11 incidents of severe damage to equipment due to flushable wipes clogging pipes, tanks and equipment. However, with the success of a new odor control system at a North Gender Road lift station, there were no odor complaints from Westchester in 2018.