CONNEAUT — A pair of large projects are planned for Conneaut Township Park this year, with funding from the state helping to pay for both projects.

Last year, township park officials started seeking grant funding to repair the bridge over Kelsey's Run.

Park Trustee Michael Smith said the park has been awarded a $128,000 grant from the Community Development Block Grant program for repairs to the bridge. The park also received $5,000 from the Ashtabula County Metroparks, from funding the Metroparks receives from the Ohio Department of Transportation, he said. The township park board is grateful for the grant funding, Smith said.

Previously, Smith said the bridge was designed in 1929 and built in 1930, and the process for repairing the bridge was labor intensive.

The park had previously sought to fund half of the project cost of $346,000 with grants, Smith said. He said while he is only one of three votes, he would be in favor of starting the project with the outside funding that has already been secured, and paying for the rest out of the park's permanent improvement funds. "Our plan all along was to do this project," Smith said.

Ashtabula County Community Services and Planning Director Jake Brand said an environmental review is currently underway. Once the review is completed, it will be submitted to the state, and, once it is approved, the state will allow the funds to be released. Brand said, depending on the results of the review, the funding could be released as early as April.

Plans are also underway to replace the park's concession stand and restrooms this fall, Smith said. Work on the new concession stand will start after Labor Day, after D-Day Conneaut takes place, he said. "They'll be taking that down in September of 2022, and then starting the construction phase as weather permits," Smith said.

The pavilion currently attached to the concession stand will remain in place, Smith said. "We've updated it, and it's nice," he said.

The new concession stand will be slightly removed from it, Smith said.  

The park received a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for half the cost of the project, $379,500, Smith said. The park also $250,000 in the state's capital budget, and received $75,000 from the Civic Development Corporation's 2020 fundraising campaign. "All of this is for the concession stand, restroom project," Smith said.

The park also received a grant for replacement of 1,000 feet of new boardwalk, Smith said. That project will hopefully be finished by July 4th, he said.

"We've got irons in the fire," Smith said. "It's going to be an exciting time."

The park couldn't do projects of this size or apply for grants without the permanent improvement levy approved by Conneaut voters, Smith said. "It's because they passed that, that we've been able to get this funding, and that we can get more bang for the buck out of that permanent improvement levy," he said.

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