NORTHFIELD – The village will apply for an Ohio NatureWorks grant amounting to $175,000 to purchase playground equipment for Smith Park on Houghton Road near Roosevelt Drive.

Village Council on May 13 authorized Mayor Jesse Nehez to submit the grant application. The deadline to apply for this year’s program is June 1. If the grant is awarded, the village must commit to providing a 25 percent match of either money or services.

In 2019, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources approved more than $3.3 million in project funding through the NatureWorks grant program, which was used to improve outdoor recreational opportunities. "Through this grant, we are able to partner with communities to create exceptional opportunities for recreation," said Gov. Mike DeWine.

ODNR approved 85 projects in 66 counties in 2019. Projects include new playgrounds, picnic shelters, renovations to existing shelters, trails, restrooms, baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, swimming pools, fishing piers and kayak launches.

Northfield Center Township received a $114,885 grant last year to upgrade Beacon Hills Park. In April, township trustees approved revised plans for the project, which call for revamping two existing tennis courts to include pickleball and wiffle ball courts, upgrading a basketball court, expanding the play area and adding a bocce ball court, pavilion and parking.

"These grants are all about providing a variety of options for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors," said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. "I encourage Ohioans to discover all the different ways they can get outside and be active while exploring the best our state has to offer."

NatureWorks grants provide up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance to local government subdivisions (townships, villages, cities, counties, park districts, joint recreation districts and conservancy districts).

Projects are funded through the Ohio Parks and Natural Resources Bond Issue, which was approved by Ohioans in November 1993. Additional legislation authorized the creation of the NatureWorks grant program.

In other matters, Village Engineer Richard Wasosky reported the Houghton and Ledge roads projects have been wrapped up, with the Houghton Road project coming in about $50,000 under budget. He said site work has begun for a Dollar General store on Northfield Road between Kennedy and Lowry boulevards.

Law Director Brad Bryan told Council the village could be in line for funding to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Recently, the Ohio Senate favored Senate Bill 310, which would provide $350 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to smaller local governments. The House had not voted on the measure as of May 13.

The federal funding cannot be used to fill income tax revenue gaps, but local governments can use it to pay for coronavirus response, such as personal protective equipment for safety forces and creating testing systems, instead of draining local funding.

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