County entities may share $320K from state

By David J. Coehrs - [email protected]

An early drawing of the proposed railroad park in Swanton.

An early drawing of the proposed railroad park in Swanton.

Drawing by Nannette Sturtevant

Four Fulton County entities stand to share $320,000 in capital improvement money if Ohio’s 2021-22 capital budget passes the House on Tuesday.

The amendment to Senate Bill 310, delayed earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, was approved Friday by the Senate. The $2.1 billion budget is used to infuse money into Ohio public services, schools, infrastructure, and community projects.

Projects in Swanton, Fayette, and Lyons are scheduled to benefit from SB 310.

Second District Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), said she’s confident the House will approve the bill. She said the Senate had worked on it since the beginning of 2019 and was prepared to move ahead in March, before the pandemic shut down further progress.

“I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to do a capital budget at all,” Gavarone said. “When I found out it was on, I was certainly pretty excited to support (Fulton County) projects and do what we could to make sure it became a reality.”

The Swanton Historical Society plans to use $150,000 in anticipated capital budget money to help convert some undeveloped village-owned property into the Swanton Railroad Park. More than two years in the making, the roughly $250,000 three-phase project would include parking and landscaping, a railroad platform, and a railroad related structure on Chestnut Street.

Historical Society President Mona Dyke said a preliminary site plan will at some point be presented to Swanton Village Council. The village gave the organization a two-year window that expires April of 2021 to devise a plan for the property.

Dyke said she was surprised to hear the that such funding in the capital budget had gone forward. Swanton Chamber of Commerce President Neil Toeppe has previously offered a presentation of the park project in an effort to secure state money.

“With the pandemic, we had no idea that this kind of money would be included in the budget,” Dyke said. “But we’re very, very excited. We’ll be able to proceed in a very timely manner.”

Phase 1 of the park would include parking and landscaping; Phase 2 would be construction of a two-story railroad platform; and Phase 3 would incorporate a railroad structure, possibly a depot. The empty property is currently often used for random parking.

Some funding for the project has already been procured through just over $7,000 in donations from local businesses and individuals, Dyke said. Other donations have been promised.

“We have a lot of area businesses that expressed support and financial interest,” Dyke said. “And we have dedicated funds, so we knew we weren’t going to give up on (the park). We have high hopes of getting it going even without (capital funds). But I’m sure receiving the money will have a big impact on that.”

An opening date is too early to consider. Dyke said the Historical Society intends to work on the project with the village’s input. “It will happen assuming the village’s continued cooperation,” she said.

Lyons Community Park would receive a $20,000 infusion of capital budget money for improvements. Village Administrator Tanya Lumbrezer said an aide to a state representative called her Monday to assure her the money is forthcoming.

Lumbrezer also had assumed the COVID-19 pandemic had stalled the state’s plans for capital improvement allotments. “I had no idea it was still going to be on the table. It was a surprise, a good one,” she said.

The funding will pay for upgrades to the park’s basketball courts and the addition of two pickleball courts. Georgia-based Versacourt Game Courts will install a special outdoor tile on all of the courts. The basketball courts recently received new hoops and backboards, but aging conditions have required surface patching.

With the popularity of pickleball among senior citizens, “I think a lot of people are going to be excited about the pickleball courts,” Lumbrezer said.

No opening date for the new courts has been set.

Fayette Normal Memorial Park is awaiting $50,000 in capital funds to help pay for a roughly-estimated $85,000 community splash pad in the works for the past couple of years. Located off Eagle Street on the village’s north side, the park will use the splash pad as the launch to further revitalization.

“We feel really really fortunate to receive this funding, and we’ll make sure that we turn it into an asset for the community,” Village Administrator Genna Biddix said.

The splash pad is a replacement, of sorts, for a community pool that closed in the park about 10 years ago. Biddix said the splash pad is a more economical choice for the low-to-moderate income community.

“This was the project that would have the widest, most immediate benefit for the community. We could kind of revive what the pool brought to the community,” she said. “It probably won’t be as elaborate a splash pad as some larger communities have, but that’s more appropriate for the size of our community anyway.”

With a 55-gallon per minute flow, the attraction will be automated and programmable, with multiple water play features for all ages.

Biddix said the village has enough money in its park fund to pay for the splash pad, one of several projects being planned to upgrade the park, “but we were fortunate to get 50% of the funding for it (from the capital fund). It will be the kick-off to what we hope will be a larger revitalization to our park.”

Biddix said the village may also look into getting government grants to foot some of the project’s cost. The attraction is scheduled for construction sometime between 2021 and 2022.

The Fayette Opera House would receive $100,000 from the capital budget. Requests for comment were not returned.

Gavarone said distribution of individual project funding through the budget depends on the nature of the project.

An early drawing of the proposed railroad park in Swanton. early drawing of the proposed railroad park in Swanton. Drawing by Nannette Sturtevant

By David J. Coehrs

[email protected]

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.