An extension to Westerville's First Responders Park should be underway this spring, according to city leaders.

Randy Auler, director of Westerville Parks and Recreation, said the project was scheduled to be awarded to a contractor this week with construction to start this spring. He said, weather dependent, the project is scheduled to be finished by September or October.

The city has planned a $1 million expansion of the park at 374 W. Main St. to include a memorial waterfall; 6-foot markers that recognize police, fire, 911 emergency communications and chaplain corps personnel; and landscape features. The low bidder for the project was Janco LLC, with a base bid of $904,000, nearly $100,000 below the $1 million budget, according to documents within the March 5 city council agenda packet.

The new expansion will incorporate a memorial for Westerville Division of Police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli, who died in the line of duty while responding to a call Feb. 10, 2018. Their names would be placed next to that of David Theisen, a Westerville firefighter who died in 1998 while battling a fire in Crooksville.

"It's really a space that was designed for first responders," Auler said.

Christa Dickey, director of community affairs for the city, said the state has contributed a $500,000 grant toward the project after the deaths of Joering and Morelli. Dickey said the Westerville Park Foundation is raising funds that will go toward the project.

"The expansion was always in the works," she said, since the opening of the park in 2010.

The park was first dedicated to honor the service and sacrifice of all first responders, according to the city's website. Its centerpiece was a section of steel known as "C-40" from the north tower of the World Trade Center that fell during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Dickey said once the project is completed, a grand-opening ceremony will be held.

Auler said those who want to donate to the project can visit westervilleparksfoundation.org and click on the link next to the project's description, selecting "First Responders Park" on the donation page.

He said residents also can write a check to the Westerville Parks Foundation and mail it to the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave., Westerville 43082 or drop it off at the center.

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