New Albany News

More than 1,000 acres acquired for new Metro Park

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The Rocky Fork Metro Park in northern Plain Township now includes 1,003 acres and development could begin before spring 2014, said John O'Meara, Metro Parks director.

"We certainly will be started by next spring at the latest," O'Meara said.

Earlier this year, the development partners -- Columbus, Metro Parks, New Albany and Plain Township -- agreed to commit more funding to the park, which, O'Meara said, helped Metro Parks acquire more land.

In May, Columbus, New Albany and Metro Parks committed another $250,000 each year for five years and Plain Township committed $50,000 each year for five years.

Columbus City Council and New Albany City Council designated the funds for land acquisition, Plain Township designated funds for park development and Metro Parks' funds can be used for either, O'Meara said.

At that time, Metro Parks had acquired 909 acres for the park, which is north of Walnut Street between Schott and Bevelhymer roads.

O'Meara said the additional 94 acres recently acquired include more of the Rocky Fork Creek and several forested wetland vernal pools.

"This will help us protect some more of the flood plain of the Rocky Fork Creek," he said.

Metro Parks officials are working with conceptual drawings created in 2011 after parks officials held public meetings at the Plain Township fire station and developed a park plan with input from residents.

The drawings include picnic areas, horseback-riding trails, walking paths, educational areas, preservation zones, places for dog walking and habitat restoration.

Existing natural features, such as the headwaters of the Rocky Fork Creek, would be preserved.

O'Meara said Metro Parks plans to install parking, some trails and perhaps a shelter to start development.

The agreement to obtain 1,200 acres for a Metro Park was signed by Columbus, Metro Parks, New Albany and Plain Township in December 2005 and updated in February 2008.

The project has been funded with $13 million in commitments from Columbus, New Albany and Plain Township.

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