Plans for a 90-acre multipurpose park are moving from the planning phase to implementation.
Crews have been clearing trees and brush on land along Lithopolis-Winchester Road to make way for McGill Park, which could have playable sports fields by the spring of 2020, Canal Winchester Mayor Mike Ebert said.
"Believe me: No one's looking more forward to this than I am," he said in describing the early phase work to develop the property purchased from Kathleen McGill in 2017 for more than $775,000.
The city has been working with OHM Advisors, a Columbus firm that provides architecture, engineering and planning services, to develop a guide for the future of its parks system over the next decade. OHM surveyed more than 1,000 park-users and residents earlier this year, and a multipurpose park was their top request.
City Council has appropriated $100,000 for early engineering-design work, including grading and utility work, such as drainage, according to city public-works director Matt Peoples.
The park's plans include seven full-size soccer fields, three half-size soccer fields and baseball and softball fields.
"Ideally, we'd like to get three growing seasons, meaning fall of this year and spring and fall of next year," Peoples said. "Those are the real critical growing times. The last park we developed, we seeded in the fall, and they were playing on it in the spring, and we just had a lot of problems with establishing turf."
The plan for McGill Park is to devise short-, medium- and long-term goals for developing the space.
A site layout map prepared by OHM Advisors as part of the city's parks master plan proposes developing McGill Park in three phases:
* The first phase would include construction of a dog park, a pedestrian bridge, a creek trail and overlook, an asphalt multiuse trail, baseball fields and shelter, event space/shelter, a maintenance building, a playground, a parking area with 227 spaces, a parking drop-off area, a restroom/concession facility, tennis/pickleball courts, soccer fields and an additional parking spur with 146 spaces.
* Phase 2 work would include a vehicular bridge, secondary parking with 209 spaces, a parking drop-off, a kayak/canoe launch, another multiuse asphalt trail, a creek overlook, shelter, maintenance building, baseball field and practice field and soccer fields.
* Phase 3 plans call for an extended entry drive into the park, an event center and overlook, space for secondary events and an outdoor amphitheater. The centerpiece of McGill Park would be an event center and amphitheater for weddings and other gatherings.
"This will probably be one of the last pieces of the puzzle," Ebert said.
With a price tag upwards of $6 million, the city is seeking partnerships with local businesses and individuals. Partial funding could come through sponsorships and naming rights.
"Right now, we've got $600,000 committed to it," Ebert said. "We've got a long way to go, but that's still quite a bit of money. I think some (potential sponsors) want to see some up-to-date renderings of the barn and baseball fields. Before, it was just a concept. The stuff we're putting together now is more realistic of what it will look like."
The parks master plan developed by OHM Advisors also includes proposals for other public spaces, including the Francis Steube Community Center, the municipal swimming pool, Westchester Park, Hanners Park, Stradley Park, Guiler Park, Howe Pond, Kelley Preserve, Pfeifer Park, Walnut Creek Park and Busey Road Park, plus numerous bike paths and trails.