Mayor Mike Ebert promises major work on Canal Winchester’s McGill Park in 2021

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek

When the city of Canal Winchester purchased land along Lithopolis-Winchester Road in 2017 to build a 90-acre multipurpose park, the plan was to have playable sports fields by the spring of 2020. 

Three years later, work on what’s expected to be a three-phase project costing upward of $6 million has been slow as the city awaits approval and receipt of state and federal grants. 

But Mayor Mike Ebert assures residents they will see progress on McGill Park by the end of this year. 

Mike Ebert, Canal Winchester mayor

“They are going to see a big difference,” he said. 

Much of what’s planned for the estimated $2.2 million first phase of the project, including construction of a main access drive, four soccer fields, a three-season shelter house and a natural playground area, should be completed by the end of this year, Ebert said. 

A trail connecting the park to an area along Walnut Creek and to Washington Street to the covered bridge also is part of the first phase and could be done this year, he said. 

The grass soccer fields, however, will need time to grow and mature. 

Matt Peoples, public service director, told City Council on Jan. 19 that bids to complete the park’s utility work, including water, sewer and electricity, likely will be presented to council members for review on Feb. 16. 

“Additionally, we are awaiting (an) environmental review and plan approvals to be finalized and will send the trail-connector project out to bid directly thereafter,” he said in his report. 

Thus far, crews have completed some design work on the land the city purchased from Kathleen McGill for more than $775,000. 

The complete plan calls for seven full-size soccer fields and three half-size soccer fields, plus baseball and softball fields. 

An event 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. 

OHM started its work in July 2017. 

The company gathered information from 1,000 park users and residents, held several working-group meetings, conducted site assessments, interviewed stakeholders and administered online and print surveys. The top request to emerge from the process was for a multipurpose park. 

Last year, the city received word from the state that it would receive a $450,000 Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant for the connector trail. 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. 

Canal Winchester also was awarded a federal land and conservation grant from the National Park Service for approximately $500,000. 

Along with grant funding, Ebert said the city also has received private donations totaling a little more than $500,000, most of it from the Wood Foundation. 

“When we get to the point of starting to add more features to the park, like the event center and the ball diamonds, we’ll have depictions of those, so people can see what their money would go toward if they want to donate,” Ebert said. 

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