A state grant coupled with additional funds from Whitehall will be used for a stream restoration project in Whitehall Community Park next year.
Whitehall received a $469,500 grant -- the full amount Whitehall requested in its application -- from the Ohio Public Works Commission as part of its Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.
Whitehall is required to match 25 percent, or $156,500, to meet the project's total cost of $626,000, said Bernice Cage, public information and diversity officer for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
Site improvements are not expected to start until June 2019, Cage said.
In its application to the Ohio Public Works Commission, Whitehall Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Sorrell wrote, "This planned redevelopment seeks to focus park improvements toward the restoration of natural spaces and connect the community with existing natural resources, including the Big Walnut Creek.
"The proposed stream restoration will serve to stabilize and improve an on-site tributary and address a significant source of sedimentation to Big Walnut Creek (and) will stabilize the stream channel, improve in-stream and riparian habitat, and promote floodplain connectivity."
Design and planning for the restoration is expected to begin "in the next few weeks," Sorrell said, with representatives from EMH&T, a Columbus-based engineering, planning and surveying firm.
If the project begins on schedule and there are no setbacks, it would be completed by the end of 2019, Sorrell said.
The restoration does not entail Big Walnut Creek itself but rather an unnamed natural tributary that runs through Whitehall Community Park, collecting stormwater from points west of the Big Walnut Creek, primarily the Woodcliff Condominiums.
The tributary cannot be rerouted to the north because utilities there make it cost-prohibitive, Sorrell said.
But its steep banks can be softened and other changes can be made to the terrain on its south side, where the city is making other improvements to the park, including a place to launch kayaks into the creek, Sorrell said.
The stream restoration will create a more natural route and higher-quality runoff into Big Walnut Creek, Sorrell said.