FORT RECOVERY — Some outdoor projects in the area just got a monetary boost from the State of Ohio.
Jim Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), was at Fort Recovery High School Monday to bestow more than $420,000 in grant checks to regional improvement projects.
Zehringer, himself a Fort Recovery native, announced that the agency had awarded grants to five municipalities — Arcanum, Coldwater, Fort Recovery, Greenville and Darke County.
Arcanum ($2,929), Coldwater ($49,406) and Greenville ($24,750) are the recipients of NatureWorks grants, which provides up to 75 percent reimbursement assistance for local government subdivisions (townships, villages, cities, counties, park districts, joint recreation districts, and conservancy districts) for the acquisition, development, and rehabilitation of recreational areas.
Fort Recovery is the recipient of a $120,000 Recreational Trails grant, in which up to 80 percent of matching federal funds is reimbursed. Funding of this type goes to projects that create and maintain trails and trail support facilities, improve access for people with disabilities and provide education about trail safety and the environment.
An Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant of $225,000, awarded to the Darke County Parks District, is to improve outdoor recreational opportunities for Ohioans by funding trails for outdoor pursuits of all kinds, providing up to 75 percent matching State of Ohio funds.
Emphasizing the importance of the grants, Zehringer said, “These kids nowadays, that are moving from town to town, the Millennials, and even seniors, like myself, you look for things to do outside, whether it be kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, hiking, running, bicycling — anything that has to do outside improves the quality of life.”
“These grants are very competitive, a lot of communities want these dollars,” Zehringer added.
Darke County Commissioner Diane Delaplane was there to accept the grant check on behalf of the Village of Arcanum, which seeks to add lighting and improve parking at its baseball diamond.
“This will definitely help their project,” she said.
Coldwater will use its money to purchase more than 30 acres of land to help preserve greenspace in the town, and eventually develop a recreational trail.
“We’re looking at long-term planning and this grant’s going to go a long way in helping secure more ground,” said Eric Thomas, Coldwater village manager/engineer. “It’s the first step in getting that land bought.”
Greenville’s grant money is slated for building a paved trail which will run parallel to the park’s streets and adding LED lighting at the park.
The city’s Safety/Service Director Curt Garrison said, “Our citizens wanted a sidewalk in our city park, but there just wasn’t a good way to do that because of the park configuration. So we’re coming off the road just a little bit, going to put an asphalt trail in, and we’re going to widen it.”
Fort Recovery is building a recreational trail loop around Community Park, which will connect the downtown to the park.
Randy Diller, village administrator, said the recreational trail had been originally planned going back to 1984, but that other projects had taken precedence.
“We just did a community planning survey and one of the highest priorities in there was having a safer place for people to walk,” he said.
Darke County’s grant will be used toward Tecumseh Trail, in which almost a mile of asphalt trail will be laid down to link Darke County to the Great Miami River Recreational Trail system in Miami County. Eventually, the trail will also extend to the I-75 Corridor (through Bradford) to the east and to the Cardinal Greenway trail in Indiana (through Union City) to the west.
In addition to thanking Zehringer and ODNR, Roger Van Frank, director of Darke County Parks District, said, “I’ve got to thank my volunteers. We’ve got 300-plus volunteers in the park district that help us. I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank Second National Bank, Greenville National Bank, Greenville Federal, and Kitchenaid, among others. They’ve all placed hard cash funds into this to build the trail.”
“We’re at the point now where I really believe we’re going to get this whole thing done,” he said.
Erik Martin may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.