Avon

The spring season will be in full swing on Saturday, and according to Parks and Recreation Director Diane Corrao, the parks department has its hands full, preparing the local parks for the leisure activities and athletic action to come.

While some parks are ready to be prepped, one park project in the city is still in the works.

In 2003, the city announced approximately 29 acres, located between SR 83 and Jaycox Road, south of Bob-O-Link Golf Course and north of Mills Road, would become a nature preserve.

Referred to as the French Creek Restoration area or Mills Road Park by some, the city initially planned to install walking trails and a wetland area, making it a passive park. The city received approximately $187,000 in grant money for the project from the Clean Ohio Fund, which is made available through the Ohio Public Works Commission. With that grant money included, the city spent approximately $754,359 on the project.

“The initial project was to create wetlands and additional flood storage for French Creek,” said Aaron Appell of Bramhall Engineering and Surveying Company, who worked on the project with the city.

He added that Envirotech Consultants Inc. helped with the eco design and implementation.

Creating the additional flood storage lowered the flood plain area by 6 to 9 inches, according to Avon Mayor Jim Smith.

“It’s purifying water and lowering the flood plain area,” he said of the project. “It’s saved a lot of taxpayers money. It helps with the cost of insurance.”

The last action reported on the French Creek Restoration area by The Press was when the city purchased one third of an acre of land in November 2008, which was added to the park property.

Creating the wetland and additional flood storage required five years of monitoring by Envirotech.

Appell said, “2009 was the fifth year of monitoring to make sure all the wetland and vegetation came in,” he said. “It met the requirements of the Army Corps permits.

“They’ve had to install additional plants all over the last couple of years to make sure they hit their wetland creation goals. It takes a little while for those to fill in and get well enough established.”

The restoration area received a clean bill of health from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to Planning Coordinator Jim Piazza.

Now the city will have to enter into an agreement with a third party to oversee the park. Officials are pursuing an agreement with the Lorain County Metro Parks.

“It should be coming to council in the next couple of months,” Piazza said of reviewing an agreement.

Law Director John Gasior said an agreement would be similar to a conservation easement, but not exactly.

“We need to enter into an agreement with the Metro Parks, but we will continue to own and maintain the property, but they will inspect it once or twice a year,” he said. “That’s the preferred way of doing it. We want to keep the property in our own name. The Metro Parks would supervise us and report to the appropriate agencies (if the agreement is approved by both parties).”

To comply with regulations, Appell said, “It needs to remain in a natural state, with the exception of an all-purpose trail and maybe a gravel parking lot – things talked about as future improvements.”

Currently, all the vegetation is covered properly on the property, Piazza said.

“We have netting to keep the birds out right now,” he said adding geese kept eating the planted vegetation.

The first phase of the preserve is complete. That first phase consists of approximately 90 percent of the project, according to Piazza.

“The only thing left do is put in a parking lot there for 12 cars,” he said.

An approximately one-mile trail is already cut out around the restoration area, but the city will eventually place wood chips down on the path, and maybe install a bench or two, Piazza added.

Contact Rebecca Turman at rturman@2presspapers.com

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