CIRCLEVILLE — It’s been a busy year for the Pickaway County Park District, as evidenced by a recent update given to the Pickaway County Commissioners.
Tom Davis, Pickaway County Parks District Director, shared several updates, including the Big Darby Creek access, expansion plans at Canal Park, additions to the Pickaway Trail, changes at Calamus Swamp and the Cooks Creek Acquisition.
Davis announced that Big Darby Creek’s paddler access is open and ready for use. The access ramp is on Scioto Darby road where it meets the creek.
“We put a split-rail fence in so nobody could drive on the nearby private property, and we put up no trespassing signs,” Davis told the commissioners.
Davis spoke of the renovations to Canal Park, including the park parking lot and a new natural play area. The parking lot renovations are to come following the purchase of about a third of an acre north of the park.
“We’re purchasing it off of Bill Richards and the closing is Thursday,” he said as he presented drawings of the new parking lot design. “We’re getting monies from ODOT to put parking lots and roadways in and we have money from that to do it.”
Davis said the lot might be dirt to start, but they’re going to pave it if they can.
“We want it to be as successful as we can, it will more than double the current spaces,” he said.
In addition, the free play area now has some sketches of what the park district is proposing.
“One of the reasons we want to expand the parking lot is we want to put in some play structures at the bottom of the hill to the south of the shelter house,” he said.
“We want to put in some small kid play areas, a zip-line and some older kid play structures and things, including a bigger zip-line and places for families to sit in the shade. We’re working with Pine Valley to get all that done.”
Davis said they’ve now got the funding to put a bridge over the Ohio-Erie Canal to make the Pickaway Trail a little bit longer. They’ve got renderings completed. The new bridge will be near the trailhead on the old railroad abutments.
“We’re going to get the design and engineering contract out this week,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have all that done by the end of the year. We figure about 100-foot span.”
Trail plans call for the continuation of the Pickaway Trail over the Scioto, something Davis said they’re still working on. They’re getting things ready to go out for engineering and design so they can then begin fundraising what he believes to be $3 million to $3.5 million for the total cost.
“We got $500,000 from the capital budget and we won’t know what the estimates are exactly going to be until we know what we’re going to build, so we’re going to proceed with getting the design and engineering done on it,” he said.
“That puts us in a quandary; now we have a bridge design, but how are we going to build it?”
Davis said the park district would work on requesting more funding from the next capital fund budget and probably conduct a capital campaign to fund the rest.
“I think that’s the smartest thing to do,” he said of asking for capital budget funding from the state. “What we’re finding is that the environmental stuff is going to be significant. That’s where the big costs are.”
Davis told the commissioners he’d continue to work with the engineer’s office to help with the project and potentially find solutions to keep the cost down.
Davis said they’re working with the Audubon Society, who owns Calamus Swamp, and they’ve entered into an agreement to manage the land. Davis has hopes they can do more than that.
“I’m hoping they’ll sell it to us, it’s the only park that they own,” he said.
The final project that Davis shared an update on was the Cooks Creek Acquisition that is still being worked through by the Appalachia Ohio Alliance. The plan is for the park district to purchase about 25 acres from AOA once they finalize with the Cooks for the property.
“We’ll be paying it out of our general fund money — about $250,000,” he said. “We want to turn the clubhouse into a nature center and allow us to open up and give the public about five miles of walking trails on the cart path. We might move our offices up there and the maintenance garage.”
Davis acknowledged that no formal agreements had been signed, but that before the purchase went through, they would make sure they got everything in writing.
“We’ll run all that by [the prosecutor], but we think it’ll be a nice addition that the public can have access to all that; we’ll have plenty of parking and the public will have access to one of their sites,” he said.