Centerville school district selling 33 acres for expansion of park

The transaction will make Grant Park the largest park in the Centerville-Washington Park District

Centerville’s school board recently approved the sale of slightly more than 33 acres to the Centerville-Washington Park District.

The land is adjacent to CWPD’s Grant Park, a 189-acre natural area between McEwen and Normandy Ridge roads with hiking trails along creeks and through meadow, forest, prairie and wetland habitats. The wooded land being sold is divided into three parcels, 27 acres behind Watts Middle School and two other parcels totaling 6.23 acres near Normandy Elementary School.

The three parcels were identified as a high priority for park district acquisition in the Grant Park Master Plan completed in 2020, according to CWPD Executive Director Kristen Marks. That plan is based on collective input from the community, Marks said.

Purchase price for the property is $555,000, she said.

CWPD received a grant of up to $613,032 to fund the land purchase, and the grant requires a local contribution. So 75% of the property’s $555,000 cost ($416,250) will be funded by The Clean Ohio Fund Green Space Conservation Program, which helps to fund the preservation of open spaces, sensitive ecological areas and stream corridors. The remaining 25% ($138,750) will be paid from the park district’s own land acquisition fund, Marks said.

“Overwhelmingly, community members stressed the importance of preserving natural areas, improving trails and access, and growing educational opportunities,” she said. “The grant-funded purchase will allow the park district to preserve, in perpetuity, the green space as quality habitat and maintain and improve hiking trails that tie to both the existing Grant Park trail network, as well as surrounding neighborhoods and schools.

“Besides ready access to recreational and educational opportunities by nearby neighborhoods and schools, the quality attributes of that green space will enrich year-round programming offered by the park district, as well,” Marks said.

Acquisition of the property also will provide protection of significant biological communities specific to the Hole’s Creek corridor, she said.

Through the grant submission process, the Park District was given additional funds to address clean up and safety along the trails, including invasive species removal, dead tree removal, access improvements and other upgrades, she said. Funds for site improvements are an estimate based on similar past project costs, Marks said.

However, CWPD may or may not spend all of what it estimated for site improvements, Marks said.

CWPD said it expects to officially close the sale on the land later this fall. The transaction would make Grant Park the largest park in the district shared by Centerville and Washington Twp., surpassing the 194-acre Bill Yeck Park, officials have said.

The land that is being purchased by the park district is steep, hillside acreage on the backside of both schools, Centerville school district officials recently said. The district would not be able to build anything on that land, but it can be used for trails and other park-associated features.

The sale of the land is “a win” for the community and an example of the partnership the school district has with CWPD, according to Centerville City Schools Superintendent Jon Wesney.

This report contains information from Staff Writer Nick Blizzard.

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