Improvements planned for Westchester Park


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

With a new master park plan in place, the city of Canal Winchester is proceeding with a grant application improving amenities at Westchester Park.

During a May 21 Canal Winchester City Council work session, a resolution was introduced to apply for an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Natureworks Grant to help cover costs.

“It would fund potential improvements,” said Development Director Lucas Haire, who added that, by leveraging city funds with grant money, more could be accomplished.

“We could bring the trail all the way to the street and playground,” said Haire. “The idea is to make the entire area ADA accessible.”

Haire said plans include installing a ramp to the playground structure, along with inclusive options, a 24’ x 36’ shelter house, 14 additional parking spaces, new benches and an upgraded trail.

“We want to make it more accessible with compacted gravel,” Haire said.

The preliminary cost of the project is $208,362 with the grant potentially funding up to 75 percent of the cost.

City representatives previously consulted with members of a neighboring home owners association and golf course representatives regarding park upgrades.

“We met with the HOA,” said Mayor Mike Ebert, “presented it to them, and asked for their support and the golf course’s support. They (HOA) came back and said they’d donate $20,000 which was more support than what we expected!”

Finance Director Amanda Jackson said the organizations were pleased with what the city presented.

According to Haire, the direction the city is taking with Westchester Park should set the theme for the rest of Canal Winchester’s parkland inventory.

When asked about the possibility of installing basketball courts, Haire said they investigated the option, but the courts would take up green space and the HOA was not interested in them.

“We’re looking at McGill Park as a priority for basketball courts,” added Haire.

Jackson said the state funded program is a reimbursed grant. If the city is successful in its application and receives funding, it would pay all costs up front and then recoup the grant portion.

Project bidding could take place in early 2019. The biggest costs are locked up in construction of the parking lot and trail.

“All we have in the budget right now is the shelter house,” said Jackson.

Haire said the HOA donation helps with Natureworks project scoring and raises the potential for a successful application. However, he said only two Natureworks grants were approved in Franklin County last year.

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