Corn is growing on a stretch of land along Lithopolis-Winchester Road in Canal Winchester, but the roughly 87 acres soon will be home to recreational fields, tennis courts and small playgrounds as the city looks to improve its parks and recreation offerings.

With approval from Canal Winchester City Council, Mayor Michael Ebert recently finalized the $775,495 purchase of property at 6725 Lithopolis-Winchester Road, formerly owned by Kathleen McGill.

"We don't have any park near this size," Ebert said. "Probably the biggest park we have right now is maybe 10 acres. This will be multiuse with trails along the creek."

The plans call for soccer and baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts and possibly sand volleyball.

A parks committee began meeting a month ago to review the city's parks and recreation system and residents' wishes, Ebert said.

The city will pay for the land in quarterly payments over a period of 10 years, according to city Finance Director Amanda Jackson.

"I think this is something we have been waiting for since I've been on council -- to make a park that will bring amenities and benefit the community recreationally and raise house values," Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon said during a special meeting in July.

Although the land purchase agreement has been finalized, the planning is in the very early stages, Ebert said.

"Probably by the end of this year we'll have a really good idea about what this park will look like," he said. "We have a concept now; however, the concept just shows us what will fit. It will give us an idea what it will cost and those types of things."

Currently, the city's Department of Public Service operates and maintains 225 acres of public parkland and nearly 5 miles of multiuse paths in collaboration with the Canal Winchester Joint Recreation District, which offers youth sports programs.

The city's parklands include the Frances Steube Community Center; municipal pool; Hanners, Stradely and Guiler parks; Howe Pond; Kelley Preserve; Walnut Creek; and space at the Villages of Westchester.

Ebert expects work on the newest park to begin next year, but cautioned that it might be two years before any fields will be ready.

"Once the corn is gone later this year, that's when we start taking over," Ebert said.

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