The city of Canal Winchester is looking to the state for a half-million-dollar Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant as it pursues development of McGill Park along Lithopolis-Winchester Road.

"We are looking to do a $500,000 grant for a trail that would connect our phase one McGill Park property to along the (Walnut) creek all the way to Washington Street to the covered bridge," City Public Service Director Matt Peoples told Canal Winchester City Council during its Jan. 22 work session.

The cost for phase one, which also includes the entrance, natural playground area, four soccer fields, a large shelter house and parking areas, is estimated at $2.3 million, Peoples said.

City Development Director Lucas Haire explained that there are "a few areas that might need bridges" along the proposed trail, thereby adding to project costs.

Council members authorized the mayor to file an application for the grant, which is due by Feb. 1. If approved, applicants must provide a 25 percent local match, which could include contributions of land, labor or materials.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website, the Clean Ohio Trails Fund "works to improve outdoor recreational opportunities for Ohioans by funding trails for outdoor pursuits of all kinds."

Importance is given to projects that:

* Are consistent with the statewide trail plan.

* Complete regional trail systems and links to the statewide trail plan.

* Link population centers with outdoor recreation area and facilities.

* Involve the purchase of rail lines linked to the statewide trail plan.

* Preserve natural corridors.

* Provide links in urban areas to support commuter access and provide economic benefit.

"The idea is to try and leverage every source of funding," Haire said. "We're also looking on the private side for private grants as well."

The city has hired Connie Spruill of Intentional Women Online LCC, which has consulting, fundraising, digital marketing and grant-writing experience, to help secure private donations or naming rights.

The biggest donation so far is $500,000 from the Peggy L. Wood Foundation.

Spruill's team has designed a website for the park,

Late last year, the city also applied for a federal land and conservation grant from the National Park Service, which could provide as much as $500,000.

It would be administered through ODNR. The program provides up to 50 percent reimbursement assistance and has awarded more than $152 million to projects in Ohio since its inception in 1965, according to information from ODNR.

Last fall, crews started early design work for the 90-acre, multipurpose park, including grading and utility work such as drainage.

The city purchased the land from Kathleen McGill in 2017 for more than $775,000.