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Plans for park in Aid fall through

A project to build a park in Aid Township has ended.

At Thursday's Lawrence County Commission meeting, Ray Taylor, vice-chairman of the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee, said the Symmes Valley Park project cannot be completed because the Symmes Valley Board of Education rejected a resolution to transfer the Aid ball field to the county.

Because the ballpark was not transferred to the county, one of the Ohio Public Works Commission's conditions, contracts cannot be completed, Taylor said. Those conditions state that the entire property has to be part of the park.

Both Commission President Jason Stephens and Commissioner George Patterson voted to notify District 15 that the grant application is to be withdrawn. Commissioner Paul Herrell was absent.

Symmes Valley Superintendent Thomas Ben said district officials were told in the spring before the committee applied for the grant that the transfer would only be temporary. However, because the district did not know a project completion date, they did not know how long the property would be relinquished to the county commission.

Even though the ballpark would be transferred to the county, the school district would have been able to control, maintain and supervise it, Taylor said.

"That was well stated, but we would have no longer owned the facility," Ben said. "The county commissioners would have the power to do something else. We have a facility for the students and the community and there was a fear that would be lost."

Ben said the board of education made its decision because of the recommendation of the school district's athletic committee.

Last summer, Taylor told the county commission that the committee had obtained a $78,000 NatureWorks grant and a $291,940 Clean Ohio grant to pay for land acquistion and improvements at the proposed park site.

The roughly 40-acre park proposed would have had a playground, picnic facilities, nature trails and other conservation-related activities.

"I think it was a good idea, but we'll move on," Commission President Jason Stephens said. "It's disappointing."

"I would still like to see a park developed," Ben said. "Maybe the county commission would be willing to provide a park some other way. The school district would have been risking a facility given to us by a community member."

Both Patterson and Stephens commended Taylor and the Symmes Valley Park Committee for the work done.

"I like to see the aggressive pursuit of grants that lead to the betterment of the county," Stephens said. "This doesn't mean that we will quit pursuing grant money."