(by Katie Sparks, Staff Writer - December 18, 2009)
Prairie Oaks Metro Park recently purchased approximately 150 acres in Prairie Township.
The acreage sets off of Hubbard Road, east and south of the railroad tracks near the West Point neighborhood.
Prairie Oaks park manager, Tom Cochran, said the purchase will protect the land and also address illegal activities which he says have been taking place on the property.
"I know we had some concerns and I spoke to many residents already and they are very appreciative of what we are doing. A lot of that property was being inappropriately used. We had ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), dirt bikes, other vehicles, a lot of vandalism and hunting without a license or permission to do so," said Cochran.
Cochran said signs and fences will be used as a way to stop the misuse of the area.
Additionally, the purchase will be to expand the Prairie Oaks park and create a spur trail connecting Prairie Oaks to Batelle-Darby Creek Metro Park.
"Our whole plan and intent would be to get a multi-use trail from Prairie Oaks to Batelle Darby at some point in time," Cochran explained.
Furthermore, Cochran said the land purchase includes Buttonbush wetlands and also a portion of Big Darby Creek, which will now be protected.
"We have hopes of actually developing that land in the near future for the benefit of the community," said Cochran. "We would like for a trail to be there and some other activities that people could enjoy. And, the land will protect the repair corridor of Big Darby Creek on the west side of Hubbard road."
Prairie Oaks planning manager, Steve Studenmund, said they (Metro Parks) had been talking with the sellers for quite some time in regard to the land.
"We purchased the 150 acres along the West Point development. We entered into the contract with Davis and Sons, they are the owners of a company here in town," said Studenmund.
Since August of this year, 206 acres total have been purchased for a estimated $1,150,000, or roughly $5600 dollars per acre.
"To help with the purchase we did receive a Clean Ohio Grant to help pay 70 percent of the amount," said Studenmund.
Cochran encourages people to notify the police and call the park office at (614) 879-0020 if continued misuse of the newly purchased land continues.