Enon, Mad River Twp. move ahead with multimillion park, sports complex

Supporter calls the proposed facility a ‘gateway to Enon.’

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Village of Enon and Mad River Township are continuing to move forward with the planning of a new multimillion citizens park and sports complex.

The 65-acre complex, in conjunction with the current eight acres at Enon park, will be between the village and Interstate 70.

“Our goal is to make it a place where people want to come to and actually be a showcase to have tournaments and things of that nature,” said Enon council president Rick Hanna.

Although the plan is continuing, the groups are still working to secure funding for the joint project. As of last April, the project was estimated to cost about $6.2 million. However, Hanna said with inflation, it could be up to $7.5 million.

“We were fortunate enough to be able to use our fundings to purchase the property (for $566,000). What we have now is a challenge of having the funding to put the shovels to work and do the dirt work,” Hanna said.

Initially, the village and township looked to be able to partner with corporate sponsors, some other big groups or the state for the project because they don’t want to “try putting taxes forward,” but they continue to reassess to figure out how to get the funding.

“When completed, this will be a multimillion dollar project, and we are currently looking at the proper procedures to receive donations for its development,” said Mayor Timothy Howard.

The planned complex will include a playground, an ADA compliant facility for disabled and children with special needs, pickleball, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, soccer fields and walking trails.

Hanna said the baseball fields are where they have a greater need for the community, especially for the smaller kids to be able to play in little leagues, the junior high leagues and other age groups. With adjustable fencing, they should be able to accommodate baseball and full-size softball fields.

“That’s what our goal is, and that’s going to take a substantial amount of money because we have to elevate them since that’s on a floodplain, and that’s where the engineering part comes in for a quote on how much it’s going to take,” he said.

As far as what’s planned for the complex, there have not been decisions made on a potential dog park, splash pad or gathering place such as a pavilion area, Hanna said. The dog park brings some liability questions about being close to kids playing sports; the splash pad would take more funding; and the gathering place would be on a floodplain.

The village and township recently took applications from at least eight residents who were interested in the planning and developing of the Enon/MRT Citizens Park and Sports Complex. The positions are voluntary for “citizens who understand overall community needs and can provide positive input,” a post to the village’s Facebook said.

Howard said several residents have expressed interest in serving on the committee.

“(This project) has generated a lot of interest from our community. As we make progress on the project, we want to make sure ideas from residents are being heard and considered,” he said. “We have never managed a project like this before, so we are carefully exploring all aspects in an effort to get it right the first time.”

The village and council have had several open meetings to hear about community needs related to the complex.

Based off some of the community involvement, Hannah said the community has a lot of excitement and that several of the different Enon softball, baseball and soccer teams are interested in playing at the new complex.

“That’s why we’re working with this committee to see exactly what our needs are, but we’ve got a pretty good idea. I think we’ve got a pretty good pulse on where we’re going to go with the whole project,” he said. “That’s my goal now is to continually have small steps that we’re moving forward.”

As for next steps, the village and council have begun the initial work to have all of the property annexed into the village’s corporate limits, which would give the village jurisdiction over law enforcement, planning, zoning and groundwater protection, and are talking with professional engineers to look over the plan.

“You build a facility where people want to come to that starts bringing people into the restaurants and to the convenience stores. This isn’t just strictly about the park itself, it actually is a gateway to Enon .. This could be a boom for the whole economic area of Enon,” Hanna said.

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