Site work plan up in air

By D. Anthony Botkin - [email protected]

Orange Township Board of Trustees continue to table a request from Beth Hugh, parks and maintenance director, for a landscape grading plan for the future site of a park, sledding hill, and the township’s veterans memorial. The item has been tabled the last four trustees meetings.

The memorial, themed “Heroes Not Forgotten,” is a community project to remember all veterans of Orange Township.

The memorial is supported by Olentangy Orange Middle School students who have raised $10,170 through fundraisers and a yearly walk-a-thon, Honor Walk, for veterans.

According to Kristin Marconi, eighth-grade American history and social studies teacher at OOMS, each year about 1,000 students participate in the events to support the memorial.

“I would estimate that more than 3,000 students have been involved in these fundraising efforts the last three years,” Marconi said in an email to The Gazette Thursday.

Orange Township had worked with Olentangy Orange High School students in 2013 to submit designs for the memorial. Amelia Dewey’s (2015 graduate) design was selected, while Matt Croghar and Kyle Benecke gave the memorial the theme, “Heroes Not Forgotten.”

Lee Bodnar, township administrator, said during the April 2 trustees meeting that the community has raised or donated about $20,000 to the project.

In a previous report, Amanda Sheterom, communications for the township, said the construction will be done in phases and that the “estimated total cost is just shy of $400,000.”

“The site was selected from several township-owned properties by a group of veterans and community members,” said former Trustee Rob Quigley in a text Tuesday. “It is all about the community, community input on the design, and community input on location. That’s what Orange Township is about, community.”

In April 2017, trustees entered into an agreement with Kenmore Construction allowing the company to utilize the old township hall parking lot as a base of operations during the widening of South Old State Road. In exchange for the use of the property, the company agreed to do the landscape grading of the property free of charge when finished with the road improvement project.

“They approached us. They basically need a laying yard where they would keep supplies in addition to what they are doing along South Old State,” Hugh said April 17, 2017, during the trustees meeting. “If we have a plan, they will help the township in performing the grading in exchange for the use of the parking lot. We would like to see some grading done, and the parking lot expanded.”

At that time, Hugh told trustees it would be nice if residents could see some benefit from not being able to use the parking area during the construction.

“The grading includes the sledding hill, the parking lot, and it includes the veterans memorial,” Hugh told the trustees during the April 2, 2018, trustee meeting. “We have to have grading plans just to give to them as to what they are doing with the site. If we don’t have that grading plan, I can’t tell them what to do with the site.”

Hugh said she anticipated that Kenmore will be done with the dirt moving equipment by the end of July or the beginning of August this year.

“It’ll take months to do the plans for (the grading),” Hugh said. “The heavy equipment they need to finish this site will be moved off-site when they are doing the final paving. We’re getting to a point where we won’t have enough time to take advantage of the agreement with Kenmore.”

In a phone interview with Hugh last week, she said the deal with Kenmore Construction not only included moving the dirt for the landscaping, but also free dirt to fill in if needed and free gravel. She said the project was pushed up to take advantage of the landscape grading from the company.

“There is little over 10 acres total for the sledding hill, a natural playground, and the memorial between the old township hall and the fire station,” she said. “Time is now running out. Without Kenmore, there is no funding for the playground or restrooms.”

But at the end of Hugh’s presentation, Trustee Lisa Knapp still didn’t see the point of authorizing a survey to draw up the landscape grading plans.

“I don’t see the point at all of doing this survey if we have no plans and not enough money to pay for veterans memorial,” she said. “We don’t have to take advantage of it, correct? We can have them, say, put the park to how it was and be done with it.”

Orange Township trustees meet Monday, May 7, in a special meeting at 1 p.m. at the township hall, 1680 Orange Road, Lewis Center. According to the agenda, the landscape grading plan appears under tabled business: “Discussion and Possible Action Korda Purchase Order #2 $4,500 Veteran’s Memorial Park Design.” image

By D. Anthony Botkin

[email protected]

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.

Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.