Johnstown has a Park & Greenway Master Plan in the works.

Thanks to a partnership involving the village of Johnstown and about 20 students taking a City and Regional Planning Undergraduate Studio class at Ohio State University’s College of Engineering, a plan has been completed on a parks and greenway master plan.

The plan will go before Village Council for adoption in late June or early July, said Jim Lenner, village manager/planner.

The OSU students developed the plan with input from local leaders and residents at no cost to Johnstown.

Lenner said everyone knows Johnstown will face increased development pressure in the near future.

“This will ensure we require adequate green space that our residents can enjoy without having to leave the community,” he said. “I plan to keep this updated as needed.”

Kim Burton, who teaches courses at OSU and who works in planning practices, connected the class with the village as a result of a recent discussion with Lenner.

As part of the curriculum, she said, students take studio courses, which are real-world-based projects, with a client and a scope of work.

Burton told ThisWeek the partnership has been a win-win because it offered students an opportunity to get real-world experience on a planning project while still in school, and it gave Johnstown an opportunity to have a project completed at no cost.

Bob Williams, Licking Park District director, said his first impression after looking at the final plan is that the students were thorough in their planning and presented a quality document the village could use for future development.

Parks and trails

The proposed plan recommends four potential parks, three regional trails and various village connections.

One potential park included in the plan is TJ Evans Trailhead Reserve, where the TJ Evans Trail terminates between East Jersey and East Douglas streets.

Another potential park site is the JYAA field along Raccoon Creek. This partially wooded site is almost entirely encompassed by the 100-year floodplain, prohibiting any substantial development there.

Setting aside land for a park would help preserve some of Johnstown’s rural character, according to the plan.

The two other potential park sites are in residential subdivisions -- the 8.25-acre “Searfoss Trust” site in Rolling Meadows and one within Concord Crossing West.

An extension of the TJ Evans Trail also is proposed north toward Centerburg to create greater regional connectivity, according to the plan.

A multiuse trail is also recommended along U.S. Route 62 toward New Albany and along Mink Street toward Gahanna.

Set in motion

Implementation of the plan would be broken into short-, medium- and long-term targets, with all dependent on available funding.

Short term is defined as low cost and would be completed within one year of funding becoming available. Short-term projects would include the plan being available on the village website and a brochure describing the various benefits of a new park system, as well as how those benefits would align with plan goals.

In addition, bicycle trails that at any point share the road with motor vehicles would receive appropriate signs to alert drivers that they should expect cyclists.

A trail that connects Belt Field, the JYAA Park and central Johnstown that runs along the utility easement near Raccoon Creek also is recommended for paving to increase the connectivity of the village’s existing amenities.

Medium-term targets would come within three years of funding becoming available and would include the continued growth of Trailhead Reserve Park.

Planning also is recommended with the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy program for the creation of a path that would connect the TJ Evans Trail to Centerburg.

In addition, an update of the Rolling Meadows Park is proposed, as well as a tax levy to increase funding.

Within five years of funding becoming available, the long-term targets include the creation of the second major park near Raccoon Creek. This would occupy 50 acres of what is undeveloped land, allowing residents of the village and surrounding townships to enjoy a nature escape. This park also would help serve as a midpoint between the paved trail connecting east and west Johnstown, according to the plan.

The Trailhead Reserve Park could continue to be improved upon, too.

If the demand from residents is present, continuing to expand the central Ohio bicycle network to connect existing trails in Johnstown to those in New Albany also could be explored.

The plan also offers various resources for funding, such as grants through the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Public Works Commission.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla