Messenger photo by Becky Barker
Private contractors and members of London’s street main-tenance department work on the shelter house at Cowling Park.
When the hammers stop swinging in Cowling Park, downtown London will have a new shelter house.
The construction project started in late August with demolition of the old shelter house.
"The old shelter house, while it was an excellent building for its time, had rest rooms that could not be heated. The water lines would freeze," said Steve Hume, London’s safety-service officer.
Additionally, the structure’s posts were almost completely rotten.
Construction of a new facility that is better equipped to withstand the elements will lengthen the time the shelter can be used each year.
"We’re putting in some minimal heat to save the plumbing so that we don’t have to worry about the freeze-thaw cycles," Hume said. "We should be able to use the rest rooms longer this way—nine months out of the year versus four or five."
The footers have been dug, the underground piping installed, the floors poured, the posts set, an the walls erected for the rest rooms.
The next steps are finishing the roof, pouring the slab floor inside and the concrete apron outside, and installing a new sidewalk to the street.
"We hope to be 100 percent done in time for the Old Fashioned Christmas at the end of November," Hume said.
The shelter house will be available for use prior to that time, btu without full electric and plumbing. When all of the work is complete, the rest room lights and fan will turn on when the new sensor switch detects motion.
State Rep. Chris Widener and State Senator Steve Austria helped to get the project going by securing a $75,000 grant for London for park improvements. A $40,000 Formula grant from the Ohio Department of Development and a $10,000 grant from the City of London will cover the rest of the project’s cost.
"It’s been an opportunity to use local contractors, plus our street maintenance department is doing the carpentry work," Hume said.
Cowling Park’s gazebo and shelter house, located north of the Madison County Courthouse on Main Street, are popular spots for family reunions, picnics and even weddings.
"It’s just a beautiful setting for those kinds of things," Hume said.