By Linda Dillman
The books are closing on 2021 and Lockbourne Mayor Christie Ward is looking back on a year full of activity in the village.
A quartet of highlights came to mind when Ward was asked to review the accomplishments in which her administration and volunteers were involved.
Topping the list was the relocation of Veterans Park, which opened during the summer and was dedicated in November.
“Most of the park was funded through donations,” said Ward. “The village only spent $1,700 out of the general fund for park design and miscellaneous work. There are a few final details, such as landscaping, signage, planters, and trash cans yet to be installed.”
In partnership with communities from Millersport to Portsmouth, the Ohio Southern Descent Heritage Trail was created to highlight the communities along the Ohio & Erie Canal, including Lockbourne.
Each community hosted a kick-off event for the Heritage Trail this past fall.
“Lockbourne’s event was such a big success,” said Ward. “We received feedback from many folks asking us to bring back the Lock & Canal Days Festival each year. Plans are underway and we will make an announcement later in 2022.”
Renovations on the second floor of the Historical Hall are near fruition, with completion of the entire building remodeling anticipated in 2022.
Ward said being invited to participate in the Rapid 5 project was another highlight, which brought awareness and support for upgrades to Locke Meadow Park and the Magnolia Trail.
As for the future, Ward said there is a full slate of projects on the horizon for 2022 and beyond.
Plans are to install a pedestrian bridge at the east side of the Magnolia Trail that will connect the Maine Loop and the Nye Loop. Funding was provided through the State Capital Budget and the project is expected to be finished by June 2022.
“We are planning to place a Memorial Wall along the fence line at the Veterans Park, to commemorate the history of Lockbourne and Rickenbacker Air Force Base,” said Ward. “Our goal is to have at least a portion of the wall complete by Memorial Day 2023.”
Connection of the third loop to the Magnolia Trail, located south of Rowe Road along the tow path to the Big Walnut in Pickaway County, and installation of a new entrance to Locke Meadow Park at 72 Commerce St. are planned for the village.
“We want to install a patio and handicap ramp in the back of the Historical Hall,” Ward said. “We also have plans to install an elevator at the Historical Hall to give handicap accessibility to the second floor.”
While Lockbourne has parlayed grants, financial, and material donations into a list of upgrades at relatively little cost in tax dollars, there still are road blocks. Revenue is a challenge for the village.
“We have limited revenue sources and operate on a shoestring budget,” said Ward. “We are very deliberate in prioritizing our projects and look for donations and grants to help with funding.”
One of the goals is to bring small businesses into Lockbourne. The town’s Economic Development Committee and Planning Commission are working to attract small businesses and prepare for growth. Another goal is to annex land into Lockbourne, which would afford the village options for smart growth and revenue opportunities.
“We want to be able to grow while keeping the small town feel that our residents enjoy,” said Ward.
She hopes Lockbourne becomes a destination place for historic tourism.
“The village is rich in history, as we were a connection point for the Columbus Feeder during the Ohio & Erie Canal days. The locks and canals are still intact, along with several historic buildings in town.”
Upgrades to Locke Meadow Park are also on the drawing board, which include a new entrance, small shelter houses, parking lot, frisbee golf course and pedestrian bridges to connect all the loops. There are also plans to connect the Magnolia Trail to other parks and trails in the area.
“All of the progress made in the village is truly a community effort,” said Ward. “Residents have volunteered their time, talent, and treasure to help with projects or community events. We could not do all that we have been able to do without them.”