A federal grant could allow Westerville to move forward with improvements to the existing wetlands at Highlands Park.

A federal grant could allow Westerville to move forward with improvements to the existing wetlands at Highlands Park.

Westerville City Council voted to approve a $131,328 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency at its June 21 meeting. The grant must be met with a $43,252 match from the city, for a total project cost of $174,580.

The Highlands Park master plan, which was created by the city in 2009 in preparation of the park's overhaul, called for enhancements to the wetlands, Westerville Parks and Recreation Department director Randy Auler said.

Some improvements to the wetlands were made as part of the $7.6 million worth of renovations that were just completed at the park, but city officials decided last year to hold off on other wetlands improvements when cost estimates for the renovations came in higher than originally predicted.

Council approved submitting the grant application in April 2010, Auler said.

Council members applauded the parks and recreation department for its work in securing grant funding for the project.

"Coming up with 75 percent of the project cost through a grant is certainly the way to go," Councilman Eric Busch said.

With the grant, the city will be required to submit project construction and water quality documentation to the Ohio EPA by June 30, 2014.

The parks and recreation department will return to council when sessions resume after the summer break in September with an appropriations ordinance that will allow for the design and construction of the wetlands improvements, Auler said.