State budget woes have dashed Liberty Township's hopes of securing more grants to improve its parks.

State budget woes have dashed Liberty Township's hopes of securing more grants to improve its parks.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is not funding two grant programs to which the township applied this year, letters from the department said.

In winter, trustees paid a grant writer $15,000 to better their chances of scoring some state funding for a pedestrian trail and restrooms in parkland behind the YMCA,7798 N. Liberty Road. The site is referred to as South Liberty Park.

Township administrator Dave Anderson on June 20 told township trustees the grant failure is a disappointment and an unforeseen circumstance.

Anderson said the township applied for NatureWorks and Land Water Conservation Fund grants to help pay the $112,000 cost of a restroom facility.

The township also applied for the Clean Ohio Trails Fund and Recreational Trails Program grants for $200,000 to help fund a pedestrian trail that would connect Olentangy Wyandot Run Elementary and Liberty Middle schools to the park, as well as provide for crossing lights at Woodland Glen Drive.

The township planned to use bond proceeds remaining from building the YMCA facility, which can be used only to improve the site. Those proceeds total about $300,000. The township also approved spending an additional $70,000 from another fund.

Though the township could seek some of Delaware County's $42,000 carryover balance from ODNR's NatureWorks grant, trustees decided to wait until more funds are available. The township had sought $50,000 in NatureWorks funds.

"It's our sense we could probably do better if we waited another year and pursued it," Anderson said.

Anderson said a number of local governments would compete for the carryover funds.

The township could use the same grant applications next year, with some minor number adjustments, Anderson said.

He also said the bike path estimates from engineering firm Floyd Browne would need a bit of adjusting. The township paid $2,500 for those estimates.

Trustees asked Anderson to talk with Powell and YMCA officials to see if it's possible to collaborate and share costs on South Liberty Park improvements.

In other park discussion, trustee Curt Sybert said the township should consider putting permanent restrooms in Havener Park on North Liberty Road. The park gets a lot of use and has portable toilets.

"You can't have a nice (park) facility like that and have that toilet that we have up there," Sybert said.

Anderson said the township could pursue grants for restrooms, but it would require matching funds from the general fund.

Trustee Mary Carducci said because of the slow economy, she prefers the township put funds toward maintaining and improving roads.

"I'm more concerned about roads and the general fund," Carducci said. "We can't spend money if we don't have it."

Sybert said the township likely would receive more complaints about the lack of bathrooms than road conditions.

bbutcher@thisweeknews.com