Don McIlroy

CIRCLEVILLE — Expanding Barthelmas Park received the official nod from council to move forward with possibly purchasing 20 acres of land which sits adjacent to it.

At its meeting Tuesday, members unanimously approved letting Mayor Don McIlory enter into an agreement with the Pickaway County Park District to help provide funding for the purchase of land south of Barthelmas. The second outlines buying 21.224 acres from the property owners, but capping the purchase price at $300,000.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for Circleville to expand our parks,” Councilwoman Sheri Theis said when introducing the legislation.

Don Sherman, Circleville’s service director, told the Long Range and Strategic Planningg Committee last week that city applied in November for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. If they receive that $150,000 grant, the County Park District will pay $125,000 and the city will owe $25,000 on the property. If the grant is not approved,the city, the park district will pay $225,000 and the city $75,000. The city should hear about the funding this spring.

After the meeting, McIlroy said negotiations with the Rhoads family, the property owners, have been ongoing for some time.

“I was in a conversation with the Rhoads family talking about that property, which AEP is using, trying to find out if there is some multiple use, and through that conversation it came that the Rhoads family would be willing to negotiate with the city for the purchase of that property.”

McIlroy said the property was important to the city because the land was next to Barthelmas Park. He said land near existing parks is rare.

“You’re not going to find that anywhere in the city of Circleville,” he said.

McIlroy said that he’s heard for the seven years he’s been mayor that people with multiple children have to travel around the city to multiple parks for their games.

“Now we may have an opportunity where we can have all the organized sports there,” he said. “That’s pretty exciting to us.”

McIlroy said the park already has great amenities, including the playground and what he said are tremendous basketball facilities, soccer fields and baseball and softball diamonds. He said council will determine the best use for the park once the property has been acquired.

“It may be all sports or it may be something else, we’re not really sure about,” he said.”

McIlroy said council’s action means he’s now authorized to figure out how to pay for the park.

“We have applied for a grant and if that comes through I think we’ll be in really good shape,” he said. “I did what I was told to do and that was to negotiate to purchase the property, and now I’m working with the park district to make it happen.”

McIlroy said the city needs more residents, noting the low unemployment and new jobs in the area.

“To attract people to move here, one of the things that we’ve been doing is working really hard the last number of years to make sure the quality of life is there,” he said. “We’re upgrading our parks, we’ve put the new bicycle path in place, we’ve brought Ohio Christian University into the city. A lot of good things have been brought in to improve the quality of life.”

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