Hilliard city officials are moving forward sooner than expected with plans for a second park in Old Hilliard.
Funding for Hilliard's Station Park was not included in city's capital-improvement projects budget for 2013, and it was unclear when funding would be restored when plans for the park were postponed.
But as the financial health of the city strengthens, its latest boost coming from at least 1,500 new jobs next year at Verizon on Britton Parkway, Hilliard City Council on March 11 appropriated $2 million to fund final engineering and design work for the park, as well as its first phase of construction.
"Because of improving financial conditions ... we can finally take this step we wanted to take for years," City Council President Brett Sciotto said.
Construction is expected to begin at the end of the year. The total estimated cost is $3.2 million. The balance of the cost and its construction is expected to be finalized next year.
Hilliard's Station Park will be designed as a tribute to the city's railroad heritage and a celebration of its founding and history. It will serve as a site for outdoor concerts, movie screenings, plays, festivals and a farmers market.
It will be built on the site of silos that the Russell Grain Co. operated in the 1950s and 1960s. The trio of deteriorating silos was demolished in January 2009 after numerous proposals to refurbish them failed.
About five years ago, the city built new curbs, gutters, sidewalks and off-street parking along Main and Norwich streets.
City officials envisioned Hilliard's Station Park at the same time as First Responders Park, a memorial dedicated in 2010 to the police officers, firefighters and civilians killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It is also a tribute to first-responders around the nation.
Hilliard's Station Park will be built across the street from First Responders Park, at Main and Center streets in Old Hilliard.
"Hilliard's Station is a key element to the revitalization of Old Hilliard," Mayor Don Schonhardt said.
Other components of revitalization are the proposed Landmark Lofts at Cemetery Road and Franklin Street and a refurbished residential and retail building that reopened last year at Main and Madison streets.
"In order for Old Hilliard to be a successful community and business location we must attract people into Old Hilliard to work, dine, shop and play," Schonhardt said. "Hilliard Station Park will help attract people into the heart of our community. It will be the new venue for community activities throughout the year."
Separate and apart from construction of Hilliard's Station Park is a private effort to build an indoor Hilliard Civic and Cultural Arts Center. It is planned for construction along Center Street between the site of Station Park and the Makoy Center.
The Hilliard Community Foundation is in the midst of a private fundraising campaign toward its design, engineering and construction.