The park being developed along Bale Kenyon and Orange roads now has a name: McCammon Creek Park.

Preservation Parks of Delaware County is developing the roughly 230-acre site in Orange Township that it purchased by using almost $1.4 million from a Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation grant, along with almost $400,000 from the parks district.

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The total land purchase for the park is estimated at $7.1 million, $3.9 million from grants.

The purchase price for the most recent acquisition was $938,924 for 24.9 acres, according to Preservation Parks executive director Tom Curtin. Closing was March 25, he said.

The various parcels have been acquired over the past four years with Clean Ohio grants and parks district’s funds, he said.

The land had been owned by the McCammon and Postle families for more than four generations. The family approached Preservation Parks several years ago to discuss the protection of the property for public benefit

"We've been working with the parks for four years now. We were patient, and it worked out," Sue Postle said. "We're very pleased."

Curtin said the hope was to find a natural or cultural feature that could be used in naming the park.

"Here, there is an unnamed tributary of Alum Creek that flows through the property,” Curtin said. “We just thought it was appropriate to call the park McCammon Creek Park."

Bob Postle said the families wanted McCammon in the name. He has said the farm had been in his wife’s family since 1812.

"We had hoped, since Sue's parents and aunt and uncles and their families had made a living on these farms for generations, that (the park) could somehow be named after the McCammon family," he said.

Curtin said the park system also has submitted documents to state and federal offices in support of officially naming the tributary McCammon Creek.

General planning on land use for the various sections of the park, with the Ohio Bicentennial barn on Bale Kenyon Road as its centerpiece, continues, Curtin said.

"There is some natural-resource restoration, including tree planting, and purple martin boxes being added -- things that can be done by just one or two staff or volunteers maintaining social distancing, Curtin said.

He said the park-design process is ongoing, including the planned acquisition of an additional 56-acre piece of property. He said the hope is to have land acquisition complete by 2021.

"There are a lot of moving parts at this stage in the process anyway, so it's difficult to know if COVID-19 will have any additional impact on park planning and development," Curtin said.

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 back 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.

Voters in 2017 approved a 10-year, 0.9-mill parks levy, allowing for the district’s expansion.

Busy parks

The most significant impact on the Preservation Parks system during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the attendant state "stay at home" order has been a clear increase in use, Curtin said.

He said the parks saw a 78% increase this March compared to March 2019.

"In this time, we know the parks are extremely important to people. Visitors are appreciative the parks are open, and we will continue to do our best to keep them so," Curtin said.

Curtin said Preservation Parks staff members have not noticed or been made aware of issues surrounding social distancing at the parks.

"Right now, it hasn't been a problem," he said.

He said whether to close all or any of the parks has been discussed but ruled out at this time.

"We're adjusting staffing to meet the demand and also to protect our staff and our visitors," Curtin said.

ThisWeek assistant managing editor Scott Hummel and Columbus Dispatch reporter Dean Narciso contributed to this story.

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