Marysville's four-year-old reservoir on Raymond Road may serve another purpose soon.
Josh Shield, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources wildlife officer for Union County, recently approached the city about stocking the reservoir for fishing. Mayor John Gore also said a resident once asked him to consider allowing the use of non-motorized watercraft at the reservoir as well.
"We talked about it, but we didn't do anything about it because there were other things that needed to be done," Gore said.
Now that the ODNR has approached the city, Gore said it feels like the time is right.
"We're kind of excited about the potential because it offers another recreational opportunity for our residents," he said.
The reservoir was built in 2008 with a capacity of 1.39 billion gallons of water. The city started using the reservoir as a drinking water source in the fall of 2009. There is a 2.1-mile gravel path around the top of the reservoir that people use as a walking path.
Representatives from ODNR met with city officials May 22 to pitch ways to expand the use of the reservoir and to field questions from all city department heads.
"We talked about a dock; they mentioned the possibility of building a larger parking lot and restrooms and putting up lights. They are talking about turning it into a nice park," Gore said.
Marysville Fire Chief Jay Riley said safety issues, parking, boat launch access and how the work would be paid for were also discussed.
"It's a beautiful site," Riley said. "It's a resource that's been developed and it's a shame we can't take full advantage of it."
According to city officials, the ODNR representatives told the group funding could be available through grants. However, some grants may be hard to get if the reservoir is restricted to non-motorized watercraft so Gore said the state agency suggested Marysville consider allowing motorized watercraft to be used at the reservoir.
"You can limit the size of motor to something like 10 horsepower," he said.
One concern raised was the fluctuating water level. According to Gore, ODNR representatives told the city the agency has been able to build docks that go up and down with the water level.
"They have a five-year plan as far as stocking it with different fish," Gore said. "They're ready to come in and stock it right now. They talked about putting the fish in before we go any further."
But Gore said he does not want to stock the reservoir with fish and have people start coming and then close it down for construction. If it happens, he said, he wants it all in place at one time.
The next step is for the ODNR to put together a package for city officials to consider. Marysville officials will tour other reservoirs the ODNR has converted to recreational use. In the next week or two, Gore said, city representatives plan to visit the Findlay reservoir or the Fremont reservoir.
They will look for answers to questions on such things as policing the property, safety and legal issues, and water quality, he said.
"Once we see it's doable, we'll sit down as a team and talk through it. We'll talk through it with council and anyone else that's interested and have a public discussion on it," Gore said.
"Will we encounter concerns and issues? Yeah. But that comes with growth. You face those issues and figure out how to solve them," he said. "I'm real excited about the potential. If we could get a little fishing reservoir with a little park set up there, that's just more for our community to do."