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Park for Westland area to become a reality
Work will begin soon on a city park for the Westland area.
Bids for work on 11 acres of land along West Broad Street were due to the Columbus Division of Recreation and Parks by Feb. 24, parks representative Maureen Lorenz told about 25 Westland area residents at a special meeting Feb. 22 at the Westland Area Library.
Lorenz said the city expects work on the park could begin in late April or early May.
“By April of next year, you’ll be playing soccer there,” Lorenz said.
The park will be developed on 11 of the 31 acres of land the city purchased from the Blauser family along West Broad Street where Alton & Darby Creek Road dead ends.
Phase 1 of this project will be a 51 space parking lot, a quarter mile looped paved walking trail and two athletic fields, said Justin Loesch who has worked with surveyors and planners for the park,
“This will be a community park,” said Lorenz who along with Loesch outlined amenities that could come later.
“There are plans for a playground and to expand the walking trail by another quarter mile,” Loesch said.
“As you start using the park, you will know what you want and what you will need,” said Lorenz who talked of adding a shelter house and Loesch mentioned benches and picnic tables.
The meeting was hosted by the Westland Area Commission which has long lobbied for a park in the area. Their efforts have paid off with this work.
The city purchased 59 acres of land along Alton Road in 1997 with plans to develop a park, but it is in a flood plain, Lorenz said.
In recent years the city purchased 30 acres from the Blauser family, but plans for a park were temporarily on hold because of city finances.
“The mayor realizes that a lot of people live in an area of Columbus that has no services,” Lorenz said. “He feels he can’t leave these people without a park any longer.”
Mayor Michael Coleman has set aside $250,000 for work on the park. Plans also call for a playground, but as Lorenz said, “Playgrounds don’t come cheap.”
She estimated it would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 for playground equipment and her department would tap into a playground fund.
A community center could be built, but that appears to be a long way off.
“We’re starting a long relationship with Recreation and Parks and the Westland Area,” Lorenz said.
She said community centers such as Dublin and Westerville cost millions of dollars, “and we’d have to have a partnership.”
The land is in the city of Columbus and is being developed by the city, but users would come from both the city and Prairie Township.
Lorenz also stressed usage will determine what future development will bring.
“We want this to be more of a community park than a sports park,” Lorenz said “We want to make sure the community accepts it.”
A basketball court was not added because they have a tendency to take over the entire park, she said.
With just two soccer fields, users will have to seek a permit from the sports section of Recreation and Parks. Port-a-Johns will be available at this park and hours of operation will be from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., “or the community can opt for sunrise to sunset hours,” said Lorenz.
She added the park would be properly maintained.
“We can get money for development, but if there is no money for maintenance, that is a cruel trick,” Lorenz said.
She challenged area residents to consider donating their time to keeping the park looking nice.
“When I started with the Division in 1986, we had three attendants to each park,” she said. “Those days are long gone. Now we have two or three in each zone and they are responsible for 20 parks. I encourage you to consider volunteering.”
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