Northfield seeking grant to make playground upgrades at Smith Park

Ken Lahmers
Special to MyTownNEO

NORTHFIELD – The village will try for the second time in two years to land an Ohio Department of Natural Resources NatureWorks grant to improve the playground at Smith Park.

At its May 26 session, council authorized the mayor to execute and submit a NatureWorks grant application for the upgrades. The project is estimated to cost $172,762, and the village could receive up to a 75 percent reimbursement.

Law director Brad Bryan explained the village applied for a grant last year, but did not receive it since the state significantly reduced the amount of money available because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said if the village lands the grant this year, the funds would become available in 2022. Smith Park is located on Houghton Road near Roosevelt Drive.

In 2019, ODNR approved more than $3.3 million in project funding through the NatureWorks grant program. “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 two years ago to upgrade Beacon Hills Park. The project was completed earlier this year.

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.

OTHER MATTERS

Council authorized the mayor to enter into a cost-share agreement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for the Jefferson Drive drainage and pavement improvement project.

The agreement allows the village to use up to $60,029 in community cost-share funds for the project. On May 12, council awarded a $166,848 contract to HSH Construction & Excavating of Wadsworth for the improvements.

Village engineer Daniel Collins told council a pre-construction conference is scheduled for June 8, and the project is expected to get under way in early July.

Service/Building superintendent Jason Walters urged residents not to blow or sweep grass onto or close to village streets because the grass can clog storm sewer lines and “create tons of problems.” He noted many towns face this problem.

“We have to do our best to stop this practice,” said Walters. “It also creates a dangerous situation for motorcyclists, because their bikes can slip on the grass, resulting in serious injuries.”

Councilman Gary Vojtuch suggested if residents, council reps and village officials see someone blowing or sweeping grass onto a street, he or she should inform them it is not an acceptable practice. If the person continues to do it, police could be called.

Councilwoman Jennifer Domzalski suggested council might want to revise the grass ordinance’s enforcement procedures to include provisions related to blowing or sweeping grass into the streets.

Walters talked about various complaints he has received about village projects, procedures and its image. He summarized he has seen many improvements in the last few years, and believes village officials do their best to keep residents happy.

Council scheduled a building and grounds work session for June 23 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss various matters.

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