Amid winter hikes, seasonal bird watching and other ongoing programs, Preservation Parks of Delaware County is continuing work on the development of natural spaces in the county.

Preservation Parks will hold a public open house at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Sunbury's Town Hall, 44 W. Cherry St., to gather public input on a proposed project to improve a portion of the Ohio to Erie Trail in Trenton Township.

The public also may comment via email at contactparks@preservationparks.com by Feb. 21.

Preservation Parks intends to apply for a Clean Ohio Trail Fund grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to pave 1.4 miles of trail right-of-way acquired in 2018. The section to be paved will start at Hartford Road and extend northeast toward Condit Road.

If the grant request is approved, the paving project is planned for summer 2021.

This comes on the heels of a recent announcement that Preservation Parks has been awarded $500,000 toward improvement of a 2.25-mile section of the Ohio to Erie Trail northeast of Sunbury from the Ohio Department of Natural Resource's Clean Ohio Trail fund from the previous grant cycle.

"Trails are a big part of what we do, and we think of these projects as sort of a linear park," Preservation Parks executive director Tom Curtin said. "It's exciting to be a part of a statewide effort. Plus, the portion of the (Ohio to Erie) trail through Delaware County will be part of the national Great American Rail-Trail."

Those plans call for a coast-to-coast trail running from Washington, D.C., to Washington state, with 52% of the trails in place, according to the project's website.

Additionally, work continues on the development of a new Preservation Parks site in Orange Township, with the Ohio Bicentennial barn on Bale Kenyon Road as its centerpiece.

General planning on land use for the various sections of the park is underway, Curtin said, while the land-acquisition process continues. Curtin said Preservation Parks hopes to acquire an additional 56-acre piece of property by 2021.

A section of the park on the east side of Bale Kenyon Road, adjacent to Alum Creek, will feature trails and a shelter, Curtin said.

A section on the west side of Bale Kenyon will feature the barn, but a project to widen Bale Kenyon Road will require the barn to be dismantled and rebuilt farther from the road.

Curtin said the Preservation Parks Foundation is working to secure funds for the move and to update the barn as a year-round parks use and rental facility.

The pending property is on the north side of Orange Road, requiring a separate parking lot. Curtin said plans call for the parcels to be connected by a bike path.

Ongoing work on the property includes reforestation; 40,000 seedlings and 1,600 larger trees have been planted over the past two years, Curtin said.

Additionally, stream restoration work will be completed in the summer on a tributary of Alum Creek.

Grants and funds from the Preservation Parks budget, which is supported by a 0.9-mill levy most recently approved by Delaware County voters in 2017 for 10 years, have been used to purchase the properties, which have been owned by members of the McCammon and Postle families.

Currently, the park does not have a name, Curtin said.

Curtin also said he expects ground to be broken on the new Hickory Woods Park on Pollock Road south of Delaware early this year.

The 112-acre park will have trails, a wildlife habitat, a four-seasons shelter, a smaller open-sided picnic shelter, a sledding hill and an event field for park programs and public use.

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