Reminderville officials mulling upgrades to Ray Williams Park

April Helms
Akron Beacon Journal
If Reminderville gets funding through a NatureWorks grant, improvements and renovations to Ray Williams Park could come as early as 2022.

REMINDERVILLE -- The village of Reminderville's Ray Williams Park may see some improvements in the future.

The village council recently gave a second reading to legislation that, if passed, will allow the village to apply for a NatureWorks grant.

The most the village would be eligible to receive is $150,000, said Councilwoman Becki Kovach. The village would have to make a 25% match to whatever it received from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Kovach said the village had considered applying for the grant last year, but the ODNR suspended applications due to the funding uncertainties brought about by the pandemic. 

This year, Kovach said that she hoped the application will be sent in April.

"We can apply every year," she said. "If we aren't awarded this year, we can reapply for next year. If we only get $20,000, we can apply for more next year if we wanted to."

Cost estimates are not available currently, Kovach said.

"We hope to get estimates in May," Kovach said. "Our engineering department is helping us come up with the estimates."

In addition, Kovach said that the village hopes to get feedback from the residents. In the future, there will be an online survey and a virtual meeting open to residents. There also will be a presentation given at the March 9 village council meeting; the presentation also will be available online on the village's website. 

"We are trying to get creative with COVID, since we can't meet in person," Kovach said. "Resident input is huge, so we definitely want to hear from everybody. We will have a better idea of what exactly we are going to submit once we hear from the rest of Council, Mayor [Sam] Alonso and the residents. A survey will be going out within the next week and we have some virtual meetings and possibly a meeting at the park at the end of March. "

The long-term community development committee, a group of volunteers who proposed ideas for renovations to the park, started this project, Kovach said.

Ideas that have been floated around for Ray Williams Park, which was dedicated Dec. 31, 1983, include a paved trail, benches, new fencing, a crosswalk with signage, exercise equipment and outdoor gaming courts. In addition, new adaptive playground equipment is being considered.

"Our current playground doesn't have swings," Kovach said. "There are swings that allow a child in a wheelchair to use them."

Another idea would be to add a plaza and a stage for summer concerts and activities, Kovach said.

The grant is due June 1, Kovach said. The ODNR usually announces grant recipients in late October or early November. If Reminderville receives any funding from the NatureWorks grant program, "the village would have most of 2022 and all of 2023 to complete the project."

During renovations, Kovach said the village "would do our best to keep the park open."

"But I'm sure there will be times it needs to be closed during the renovations due to safety," Kovach said.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@thebeaconjournal.com