West Jeff looks to install inclusive playground equipment at Garrette Park

(Posted Jan. 7, 2020)

By Ris Twigg, Staff Writer

The city of London recently constructed an inclusive playground. Now, the village of West Jefferson is looking to build one, too.

Inclusive playgrounds and parks feature equipment and opportunities accessible to children of all abilities. Garrette Park will be the recipient of the new infrastructure, Mayor Ray Martin announced during the Jan. 6 West Jefferson village council meeting.

“Some of that equipment that’s down there has been there since I was 5 years old. I’m 55,” Martin said. “So, we’re taking all that out.”

To help fund the project, the village applied for a capital fund grant from the State of Ohio through State Senator Bob Hackett (R-London) for a total of $400,000. The entire cost of the inclusive playground project is around $496,000, Martin said.

Martin hopes the state will award the village the full $400,000 grant, but expects around $200,000. Some additional financing is already in place, including a $25,000 grant from Battelle and around $50,000 from a park development fund.

Regardless of whether West Jefferson is awarded the capital fund grant, Martin said the goal is to have the project completed by the end of the summer.

He and several other village representatives recently met with Hackett to apply for the state funding. The village should know if they won the grant some time in February, Martin said.

“We’ve got three parks. We want walking trails around those parks. We want people to be able to go out and enjoy a park,” he said. “If we get the grant, we’ll start working on it this spring. We’re dedicated this year to working on our parks.”

In another move related to recreational amenities, council members approved an ordinance setting aside $60,000 to fund annual operations at the pool.

“Every year, we use money from the general fund to fund annual operations at the pool because they don’t make enough funding … to operate,” said Rebecca Arnott, director of finance. “So, this helps them operate for the year.”

In other business, four council members who won election in November were sworn into office, including Michael Conway, Linda Hall, Richard King and Jeffery Patterson. Hall and Conway are returning council members. King and Patterson are new to council.

Council members also voted unanimously to nominate Steve Johnston as sitting council president and Jen Warner as returning vice president.

“We’ve done a lot of good things the last four years, and we’re hoping it will go in that same direction,” Martin said.

Council entered into executive session at 7:22 p.m. to consider the purchase or sale of property. They returned to open session at about 8:10 to adjourn the meeting.

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