The Clark County Park District is spending almost $2 million in donations and grants to build two new parks on 200 acres.
One park is behind the now-defunct Clearview Mobile Home Park on Dayton-Springfield Road; the other is north of the Lower Valler Pike in Bethel Twp., land which was part of the Battle of Peckuwe. The parks still need excessive work before they become officially accessible to the public, but are major victories for the county, officials said.
The projects will be paid for predominately by the Clean Ohio Fund. The fund will invest more than $799,000 in the Clearview Mobile Home Park project and more than $609,000 in the Bethel Twp. park.
The Clearview project will cost about $1.1 million overall, but private donations to the Park District will cover all but about $30,000, according to Clark County Park District Director Carol Kennard.
The Bethel Twp. park will cost more than $812,000 and be completely paid for by grants and donations, according to officials.
The Clark County Park District has different plans for each venue.
Park Commissioner Tim Devore has taken the lead on the Clearview project.
“This place has an immaculate amount of cliffs and there are over 33 trails on just one side of the cliffs,” Devore said.
“This could be a premier park,” Devore said.
“The first time I walked down through it I was really surprised,” Kennard said. “I was surprised there was something that gorgeous in the Springfield area I had never seen before.”
The area where the park will be is well hidden. A small path filled with rocks that act as unsteady steps leads climbing enthusiasts down into a gorge. From there, the Mad River can be seen, and mother nature suddenly reveals herself.
“You feel like you can breathe,” climber Josh Botti said of the area.
Botti and Kelly Ross, both of Columbus, were spotted this week camping at the site and getting ready to climb the natural cliffs.
“You can go to Kentucky which is renowned for their sport climbing and not find this scenery,” Botti said. “You have a riverbed in the middle with a river, and on either side cliffs. About 50 feet points with limestone, It’s unique. You can’t find this, there is not a lot of this around.”
Many different organizations and government agencies are working together to make the park a reality, Devore said.
“You come in and its 100 percent nature,” Devore said. “It is the best climbing because it gives all ranges, from beginner to expert.
“The floral here is great too,” Devore noted.
There is still a lot of work to do to bring out the parks full beauty. Trash is scattered throughout and brush and limbs are prevalent. Devore said over 300 volunteers are expected to help clean up the park in May.
He also said officials are planning to build a large bridge over the Mad River that will allow park-goers to reach either side safely.
“This is an interesting and fun project,” Devore said.
Detailed plans for the new park north of the Lower Valler Pike are still developing, Kennard said.
B-W Greenway Community Land Trust is partnering with the Clark County Park District to preserve about 100 acres of land as part of a Clean Ohio Conservation plan.
The land trust wrote and won the grant, Kennard said. The organization will work to improve the area by cleaning it up and removing evasive plant life that is making it difficult for the natural habitat.
“It is another beautiful and natural habitat to preserve,” Kennard said. “For that area we really don’t have any solid plans for how it will be used other than preserving the habitat. We are working with the land owner to help us decide how things will be developed.”
The estimated cost of the project is $812,716. The project has received a private donation of $203,179 from the Hufford family. The property was previously owned by Michael Hufford. The family will be granted special privileges to use the property in exchange for their donation with the sale of the property, according to officials.
The project’s goal is to foster a cleaner Ohio and establish a park space on significant land. Improvements on the land are scheduled to begin in July of next year. The goal is to open in January of 2019.
The land is home to the largest battle site from the American Revolution — The Battle of Peckuwe, according to Clark County Commissioner John Detrick,.
“It’s a sensitive area,” he said. “And a good project to preserve.”
The park will be labeled a public, historical zone in order to maintain the integrity of the land. The project will also conserve endangered and threatened wildlife and plant species and restore water quality in the area.
Renovations will also construct “multiple recreational, economic and aesthetic preservation benefits,” the project plan application reported.
The project will also address hunting regulations to reduce over population and habitat enhancements.
The property is connected to land the Park District owns.
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