An excavator sits idly by as workers wait for a break in the weather so they may continue their work on the banks of the Richwood Lake recently. The park received nearly $2 million in grant money to improve the banks, the path and the new additional parking at the softball fields.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The Richwood Lake Park has been a staple in the small village of Richwood since the 1930’s. The old lake hasn’t changed much over the years until recently that is.
If you drive down Lynn Street you will notice a lot of work as excavators pull rock from piles and line the banks in an effort to save the eroding shores.
You may see the results of the project today, but it all started seven years ago when a group of locals, called the Trail Blazers, decided to do something to improve their community.
“We just got a few heads together and formed a committee and started looking for money,” said Richwood Mayor Scott Jerew.
The lake has a nature trail that travels around the banks and through the park, but years of rain and flooding have eroded the trail away and exposed many of the roots of the trees that line the banks.
“It is not very safe because of the tree roots and the erosion from the lake has washed some of it way and they (Trail Blazers) were looking for something to make it more accessible to anyone that wanted to walk on the trail,” Jerew added.
So members of the Trail Blazers, who also make up the parks committee for the Village of Richwood, went about doing something. The project saw its first phase of completion about a year ago when a small portion of the trail – from the south end of the park to the beach on the north side of the park – was paved with asphalt. The path is 10 feet wide and is Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
“We were figuring it was going to take six to seven phases to complete the project,” said Jerew, but Craig Mescher of Access Engineer Solutions came along and opened up the project in a hurry for the Village of Richwood.
Mescher, who is also the project manger, was able to procure $1.9 million in grant money through Clean Ohio, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Trail Funds and Ohio Capital Improve Fund. With all of the new money available what was going to take six or seven different projects to get that park to the park committees desired idea will now be completed in one fell swoop.
“I got $1.5 million through Clean Ohio and then $250,00 through capital improvement and $150,000 through ODNR trails and then the village will have roughly $100,000,” Mescher said.
The money will go towards several different improvements all around the park with the majority of the funds going toward the purchase of rock to line the banks preventing future erosion. The village also was able to use money from the project to purchase two new properties – one from the school and the other next to the softball fields.
“There are some places that was getting close to the lake over the years (due to erosion) and on the north end the lake has eroded away far enough that is on the schools property,” Jerew said.
The property next to softball fields will be used to make 70 additional parking spaces on a gravel lot.
“That is a big addition for us,” Jerew added. “With those additions in property that is green space, forever and it will help with the size of the park. It is just a win-win for everybody.”
Once those projects have been completed, the village will move on to the main reason the project got underway, the walking path. The path will be paved in the same manner as phase one, a 10-foot wide, ADA compliant asphalt surface.
Jerew said the main goal of creating the path was “get more people out exercising,”
“We are partnering with the health department to get people out of the house and over to path to get exercising,” he added. “It will be for biking, walking and running.”
The path will also link up with Richwood Greens, a retirement community on the edge of the park.
“The seniors will be able to make it all the way around the park,” Jerew said. “It is going to be handicap accessible. The main goal is to get more people outside and give them a place to exercise.”
The plan is not for the path to stop only in the park though. Jerew, along with others in the community, want to make the path a part of a network of paths for people to be able to walk or bike around the village.
“Doug Mathews has been working with Safe Routes to Schools at least three years because there are no sidewalks to the schools and we would like to change that, but again it is all money,” Jerew stated. “Doug is try to get money for the sidewalks to the schools and we would like to incorporate with that.”
The lake project will have some maintenance associated with it over the years, but Mescher said due to the nature of the project it will be minimal.
“The asphalt should be good for 10-12 years before you have to do anything to it, but whenever you do something like this as you get years down the road there will be maintenance cost,” he added. “The one odd thing with this is a good portion of the money that was used for this is on rock. Not a lot you do to rock.”
The Trail Blazers, who got the ball rolling for this project, also want to continue their roll as care takers once the path has been installed.
“I want to maintain this trail forever and my goal is to get it for one, but to maintain is my personal goal because people that put trails or walking paths in and then they walk away and ten years later you can’t even walk on it because it is so bad,” said Jerew. “So this group, is not going anywhere after the trail is put in.”
For now though the people of Richwood will just have to wait until the project comes to completion.
“I told the mayor and everyone at council, it is going to be a mess for a while, but it should be really nice once it gets done,” added Mescher.
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