After a successful fundraising effort, First Responders Park is set to be completed by early October, according to city leaders.
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 city documents.
The expansion will incorporate a memorial for Westerville Division of Police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli, who died while responding to a call Feb. 10, 2018.
Their names are to join that of David Theisen, a Westerville firefighter who died in 1998 while battling a fire in Crooksville.
Randy Auler, director of parks and recreation for the city, said the piece of steel from the World Trade Center will remain, with additional features to include an eternal flame and a walk honoring all branches of first responders.
"Everything that we've presented to the public will be included," he said.
Auler said the project would not have been possible without the donation of $175,000 in services from local companies, $400,000 contributed by the community through the parks foundation and a $500,000 grant from the state of Ohio.
"It's in essence paying for the project, and we're very pleased," he said.
The park was dedicated in 2010 to honor the service and sacrifice of all first responders, according to the city's website, westerville.org. The 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. On Oct. 9, 2011, the city dedicated a privately funded sculpture, "The Crossing," to honor Theisen.
According to the city's website, POD Design and McGill Smith Punshon provided design services free of charge to honor Morelli and Joering.
Columbia Gas of Ohio will be donating and upgrading a gas line that would run along Main Street to make the project possible.
Auler said the contract completion date is Oct. 4, but the city is trying to have it done earlier. Construction began in March.
"We're trying to get it done as soon as possible," he said.
Auler said an event will be planned for when the park is completed but details have not been determined.