By Amanda Amsel
The Franklin Township trustees have approved partnering with the Trabue Wilson Enthusiasts Team (TWEET) on a Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) Clean Ohio Fund Grant.
The grant, which supports environmental projects and programs in Ohio, offers grants for green space conservation, brownfield revitalization, farmland preservation and recreation trails. The group is applying for the grant to preserve a natural area in the township, located at 3775 Trabue Road.
“The area is eight acres and is a wooded area that is not being used,” said Hari Ruiz, member of TWEET. “Right now the property is for sale and we want to purchase the property through this grant to preserve the area.”
In order for the group to purchase the land they need the grant and the only organizations that can apply for the grant have to be a government entity or a 501c3.
According to the Franklin County Auditor, the property is valued at $124,800.
Organizers say the property has been for sale for approximately 10 years, so they are hoping the real estate agent will be willing to negotiate.
“If we receive the grant we will still need to raise additional funds as the grant only covers 75 percent of the appraised value of the land,” Ruiz said. “We will have to raise the other funds through donations.”
Ruiz said that if the group successfully purchases the land it would be given to the township. This concerns some of the township trustees because the township doesn’t have the finances to care of another property.
“We have no money to pay to maintain any parks in the township,” said trustee Tim Guyton. “We have actually delayed taking property from South-Western City Schools because we can’t afford to maintain it. Even though you want to give us this property it is our responsibility to maintain it, which concerns me.”
The other trustees did not agree, saying that this would be a great opportunity to enhance the community.
“We could preserve this and down the road when our finances are better, we could turn it into a park,” said trustee John Fleshman. “We could in the future create a rustic trail and maybe parking and it will enhance the community.”
Ruiz said that the township could leave the property as is for now and when they are in better financial shape they could turn the property into a park.
“If they leave the property as is for right now there is no maintenance and therefore no costs to the township,” Ruiz said. “The only thing this will cost the township right now is time as the fiscal officer will need to setup a separate account for this property to accept donations and potentially the grant.”
TWEET said they will do the bulk of the fundraising and would coordinate the grant process as well.
According to Ruiz, the grant application is due at the end of December and the township will find out if they received the grant in the spring.
“If we are successful and can keep this as greenspace it will be beneficial for all of Franklin Township,” Ruiz said. “We will stop this property from being annexed into Columbus and will offer another benefit to moving or staying in the township.”