By Linda Dillman
Snow blankets the ground of a former Canal Winchester farm on the city’s eastern border, but one day soon, the land will host athletic contests, children laughing while playing, and families enjoying warm summer days along meandering paths in McGill Park.
“This will be our signature park that will draw people from all over that area,” said city of Canal Winchester Public Service Director Matt Peoples. “The soccer fields are badly needed for the recreation programs and walking paths will contribute to an overall healthier community. The shelter houses will bring additional rentable space for birthdays and family reunions.”
Bids opened on the utility portion of the project on Feb. 5 and the city is waiting on approval from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to proceed with a trail project and the first phase of the project.
“The COVID-19 restrictions have caused some delays but we feel we are still on track,” said Peoples.
According to Peoples, the trail connector project is a 10-foot-wide asphalt path starting across from the covered bridge. It travels along Washington Street and then along Walnut Creek to a terminus near the McGill farmhouse. The trail includes two bridges—a 66-foot weathering steel bridge about 18 feet above the creek spanning a gorge and a 27-foot weathering steel bridge spanning a ravine.
The first phase of the project includes a large, nature play playground, 67×32 foot three-season shelter house with restrooms and a kitchenette, a 24×36 foot shelter house, four full-size soccer fields, walking paths and parking areas.
The McGill homestead is still located on the property and while there are no plans for its use at this point in the project, the house will remain on site.
“The original estimate for the trail connector project was $900,000 and $2.5 million for the Phase I project,” said Peoples. “The trail connector is still in that area, but there were some modifications on the Phase I project that raised the costs (still being finalized).”
The city received a $500,000 grant for the Phase I project and a $450,000 grant for the trail connector project, along with a $500,000 donation from the Wood Foundation, $15,000 from TS Tech and $2,500 from Trinity Health.
“Our fundraising plans took a hit with the pandemic, but we plan to restart our efforts soon,” said Peoples. “We have been planning this for quite a few years and are excited to be seeing it come to fruition.”
McGill park is located along Lithopolis-Winchester Road on the southeast edge of the city of Canal Winchester near Walnut Creek.