Centerville has been approved to receive $1 million in state grant money to buy land from a developer in order to pay for improvements at a community park which is located in the Cornerstone of Centerville development off of Wilmington Pike.
City officials learned this week that it will receive the money as part of its grant application for Clean Ohio grant funding.
The Clean Ohio Fund restores, protects, and connects Ohio’s natural and urban places by preserving green space and farmland, improving outdoor recreation, and cleaning up brownfields to encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities
The city says in its application that the park is designed to promote passive areas, including a walking path to provide connections to a hotel, as well as and multi-family and senior-living residential developments.
The Clean Ohio Grant application was for $1 million and the price tag on the project is $1.47 million. The developer will be donating land worth $472,108 to the city. Centerville will not pay to purchase the land.
To qualify for Clean Ohio funds, a government has to own the property its seeking to make improvements to. The park land is owned by Oberer Realty, and the city will use the grant money to pay the developer to acquire the park land and then make improvements.
The 20-acre park has been on the park district’s plans for years as a key part of Cornerstone of Centerville, complementing the ongoing development of restaurants, retail, hotel and apartments near Interstate 675.
“The park at Cornerstone represents a unique opportunity for intentional green space within an urban development. Grant funding is the first major step in achieving our overall goal of incorporating a beautiful piece of parkland to complement the overall Cornerstone project,” said Centerville City Manager Wayne Davis.
Clean Ohio Program Open Space applications go through the Natural Resources Assistance Council (NRAC), according to Ohio Public Works Director Linda Bailiff. She said that each project must meet a minimum score based on criteria set by the NRAC in order to qualify for funding.
NRAC District 11 had asked to review the appraisal information from the city on the proposed land purchase involved with the project and on Wednesday in Springfield the committee ruled 5-0 with three abstaining and three absences to grant the funding.
“Also, the Centerville application scored above the established minimum score. Since the project is eligible and scored above the minimum score, our NRAC cannot deny them funding. What they can do is make sure the appraisal is accurate,” Louis Agresta, a member of the committee, said.
Bailiff said that is exactly how the process works, noting that, “we will be releasing a project agreement to Centerville in the near future.”
Centerville resident Joe Harmon said he opposed the project and that others questioned why the funding was being awarded.
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