Plans to build Canal Winchester's 90-acre, multipurpose McGill Park are expected to move into the design phase this year with the recent approval of more grant funding.

The city received word from the state that it will receive a $450,000 Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant for a nature trail connecting the park along Lithopolis-Winchester Road to an area along Walnut Creek and all the way to Washington Street to the covered bridge, said Lucas Haire, the city's development director.

"Our hope would be that we could get the rest of the design done this spring," he said. "Right now, these are concept plans with a budget associated, so we could go in and actually have it designed and then bid out the project this spring with a start in the summer."

The city also learned late last year that it received conditional approval for a federal land and conservation grant from the National Park Service, which would provide as much as $500,000, but the funding has yet to be awarded.

Thus far, the city has completed some early design work on the park, including grading and utility work, such as drainage, on the land that the city purchased from Kathleen McGill in 2017 for more than $775,000.

The first part of the proposed three-phase project includes constructing a main access drive, four soccer fields, a three-season shelter house and a natural playground area.

The complete plan, with an estimated price tag of nearly $7 million, calls for seven full-size soccer fields and three half-size soccer fields, plus baseball and softball fields. An events center and amphitheater also are part of the site layout prepared by Columbus-based OHM Advisors, which developed a guide for the future of Canal Winchester's parks system.

Cost estimates for McGill Park's first phase are about $2.1 million, Haire said.

The city expects to spend about $900,000 to build the trail and then to be reimbursed for 50% of the cost through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant.

"The area that the trail goes through is probably the most scenic area of Canal Winchester," Haire said. "It's beautiful along the creek. There are all these shale outcroppings, and the trail sits higher ... so you get these nice views down into the creek."

The city also received a $100,000 ODNR Nature Works grant to help complete improvements to Westchester Park, such as additional playground equipment and parking, a shelter house and the enhancement of an existing nature trail.