The Darby House at Darby Dan Farms on the far West Side made an appropriate backdrop for Wednesday night's meeting of the Westland Area Commission.

The Darby House at Darby Dan Farms on the far West Side made an appropriate backdrop for Wednesday night's meeting of the Westland Area Commission.

At the meeting, commission members and residents attending heard an update from Metro Parks representatives on several initiatives, including the push for a 10-year, 0.75-mill parks levy on the May ballot.

The commission moved its January meeting to the Darby House in an attempt to attract more residents. Those who attended had the opportunity to see a local historical site and hear about what the Metro Parks has planned for it in the coming year.

Kevin Kasnyik, manager of Battelle Darby Park, said the much anticipated 6-mile bike trail in the park will open in a matter of weeks. Currently, 1.7 miles of the trail is open, he said.
The bike trail was made possible when metro parks purchased 1,300 acres of Darby Dan Farm. A portion of the property purchased included a grandstand and horse track built by the late John Galbreath, who raised Kentucky Derby competitors there.

"You will be able to ride on a portion of the old race track," Kasnyik said. "The grandstand is still there, as well as a training barn. There is a tremendous amount of history here. We would like to restore things to show people what it was like during its heyday."

The expansion and improvements to Battelle Darby Creek Park show what a levy and community partnerships can do to support the parks, he said. On May 5, Franklin County voters will be asked to approve a 0.75 mill levy.

The cost to property owners would be about $23 per $100,000 of home value. Metro Parks plans to use levy proceeds to maintain existing park grounds, trails and other facilities; expand programming for all age groups; build a nature center in the Darby Watershed; and acquire land and build 50 more miles of trails.

In other parks and recreation related business Wednesday night, the commission announced that the city of Columbus has purchased what is known locally as the Blausser property, located south of Alton Darby Road and West Broad Street. The city purchased the 30.6-acre property with voter-approved bond money for $1.9-million.

Commission member Jo Ellen Locke noted that the building of a recreation center won't happen anytime soon because of the current economic climate. But knowing that land has been purchased brings the recreation center is a step closer, she said.

"At least we have the land," she said. "They are calling it the Broad Street Parkland."

The commission also took action to appoint Greg Donovan as its newest member. Donovan has been a resident of Columbus since 1995 and owns his own roofing company.

"I am looking forward to being able to serve the community," Donovan told commission members.

Chairman Mike McKay said Donovan will serve a three-year term.

"He comes from a part of the Westland area that doesn't have representation, so it's a good fit," McKay said.

The next Westland Area Commission meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, at OhioHealth Doctors West Hospital on West Broad Street.