New Metro Park planned

Metro Parks has purchased land for a new park located on 485 acres along Little Walnut Creek between Groveport and Canal Winchester.

Metro Parks will purchase the land for $4 million from Eastside Nursery. Metro Parks Executive Director John O’Meara said the land, which he believes is one of the largest privately owned tracts in Franklin County, was appraised at $4.7 million.

"It’s a beautiful tract of land, well situated and suited to the area for a park," said  O’Meara. "We look forward to working with Groveport and Canal Winchester to make it a regional attraction. We haven’t talked to them (local government officials) yet. But we’ll look at the many opportunities the park will offer for partnership and cooperative efforts."

The acreage, located in Madison Township, is bordered roughly on the north by Little Walnut Creek, Lithopolis Road on the east and Richardson Road on the west. It neighbors The Links at Groveport golf course, Groveport Park, and  Columbus’ Richardson Road tree farm/park lands.

Eastside Nursery Chief Executive Janet Dutton said the company, which has been in business for 63 years and has been located at its current site since 1976, was looking to sell the land and thought Metro Parks would be a good fit.

"We thought it was something my dad would’ve liked," said Dutton. "He loved the land."

Dutton said the acreage has rolling hills and is a mix of meadows and areas of trees and shrubs and has "lots of wildlife."

"It’s a really pretty piece of land," added Dutton.

O’Meara said the new park will be beneficial to Little Walnut Creek.

"Little Walnut is an important stream. It’s the longest stream in Franklin County without conservation support," said O’Meara. "The park will help protect the Little Walnut corridor."

Because the land was part of a nursery operation, O’Meara said it "already has attractive aesthetics."

He said that no design is in place yet for the park, but it could include trails, access to Little Walnut Creek, picnic areas, as well as fishing.

"There are three big ponds on the land," said O’Meara.

"There’s a lot of fish in them," said Dutton of the ponds.

O’Meara said Metro Parks is considering placing a replacement levy on the ballot in 2009. The purchase of the park land is not dependent on the proposed levy, but funds to develop the new park would be part of an overall potential future Metro Parks levy.

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