DCP able to payoff Bish Discovery Center early


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — It’s no longer the newest addition to the Darke County Parks, but it is the latest to be paid for in full. On Thursday, April 27, Darke County Park Commissioners Mike Henderson and Darryl Mehaffie voted to approve a resolution to pay the remaining $7,236.10 payment on the Bish Discovery Center loan. Commissioner Tina White was absent.

The Bish Discovery Center, 404 N. Ohio St., Greenville, has fit well into the Darke County Parks mission that provides passive recreation and appropriate educational programs and activities. The Center’s focus is to educate visitors about sustainable living, renewable energy and how to have a positive impact on the environment. Not only does it serve the purpose of educating Darke County residents it is also the hub for many recreational activities with its close proximity to the Tecumseh Bike Trail and Greenville Creek. Bike and boat rentals are available at the Center.

Commissioner Hendrson made a motion to approve the resolution and Commissioner Mehaffie said, “I will happily second that. This has to be a highlight for me as a commissioner. To think that we now own this as part of the District for the community to enjoy.” The resolution received unanimous approval.

The road to paying off the mortgage began in 2017 when former commissioner, Jon Cook, met with Darke County Parks Director Roger Van Frank in a gravel lot at the Center. The duo met with the director of the Ohio Public Works Commission about applying for a grant. Van Frank tried to extoll the virtues of the building, but the director was more interested in the property and its location next to Alice Bish Park. When she stepped inside the building everything became clear, “She walked inside the building and said, ‘Now I understand,’” Van Frank said.

The entire process of writing the grant and getting approval of the $340,000 grant took nine days. Van Frank exclaimed, “That’s unheard of in state government.” The Parks had assistance from Susan Laux, of Mote & Associates, with writing the grant request. On May 31, 2018, the deed was transferred from Bish Properties, LLC to the Darke County Parks.

There was some hesitation from Cook when it came to purchasing the building. “It’s great to see this being paid off. When that property became available it was hard for me to say yes on that purchase because we were financially strapped at that time. When you look at it, it’s a no-brainer. It’s right at the trailhead and the bike path,” Cook said.

The Commissioners credit a levy approved by Darke County voters for making the early pay-off of the loan possible. Jim Buchy and John and Karen Burkett were instrumental in getting voters to support the levy. Buchy sent an email to the District showing us support of the payoff, “Congratulations to the Darke County Park District for paying the loan in full before the maturity date. This shows prudent management of our tax dollars and is another positive reason to continue our support for the District.”

John Burkett added, “I think it’s another positive thing to show the parks benefit the entire community. This isn’t just for one place or another. It is for all of Darke County. All of our communities benefit. It is for all people.” His wife, Karen, added, “And all ages.”

Commissioner Henderson praised the work that has taken place at the Center, “It’s a Center that is amazing and we keep building on it. We appreciate all that she (Megan Hammaker) has done in such a short time frame.” Van Frank said, “The other day she (Hammaker) was beaming because somebody said, ‘This is like a little Boomshoft in here.’ It’s a great compliment for her and it continues to grow.” Since starting the after-school program, Hammaker has been able to grow attendance from two or three to 10 to 12.

Hammaker said, “This is a wonderful milestone for Darke County Parks and Bish Discovery Center. I am excited for the future of Bish Discovery Center, and I will continue to work hard to continue to implement new features and host educational programs and events that will benefit the residents of Darke County.”

One of the new events coming to the Bish Discovery Center is the Bash at Bish planned for June 24, noon to 7 p.m. Information on this event will be available soon.

In addition to serving as an educational facility for the District the Bish Discovery Center also serves as a maintenance facility. Henderson said, “We also needed a maintenance facility and we got that, too.” Van Frank said it saved the park district about a quarter of a million dollars because they didn’t have to build a maintenance facility at Shawnee Prairie.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

No posts to display