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Waterworth Memorial Park likely to receive money for restroom repairs

SALEM–A NatureWorks grant sought to renovate restrooms at Waterworth Memorial Park near the duck pond and concession stand has been conditionally awarded through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“That’s good news. Not a done deal yet, but looking good,” Parks Director Shane Franks said.

He informed the parks commission members about the grant during their meeting Wednesday.

A letter from ODNR dated Nov. 4 said the $31,573 award is subject to approval by the State of Ohio Controlling Board. Franks said he’s crossing his fingers, but doesn’t know of any reason why the grants wouldn’t be awarded. Salem was one of two awardees for Columbiana County, with Lisbon slated to receive $19,025 for swimming pool liner improvements.

Franks thanked everybody who was involved in the application process, including the community groups who wrote letters of support for the project, all professing the need for restroom improvements. The last time any major work was done on those restrooms was 1998 and Franks said the restroom facilities are used by everybody. He said there’s more activity going on at the park and all park users will benefit.

The Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association (OMEGA) assisted with the application for the grant, which is supposed to cover 75 percent of the project cost with the parks department responsible for 25 percent of the cost. Once Franks gets the go-ahead from the state, he’ll be touching base with the expected contractor. The plan is to do the project in the spring.

Plans call for making the bathrooms compliant with Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, which may require moving some of the plumbing, sinks or toilets. Franks is also looking at new flooring and better lighting.

Parks commissioners were happy with the news. Franks said he’ll continue looking for grants, especially if a grant covers 75 percent.

In other business, the commission put him in charge of forming a committee for a levy renewal campaign for the 1-mill parks levy being placed on the March ballot for renewal.

“That’s what we survive on. Without that, we’d have to close something up,” commission Chair John Panezott said, stressing the fact that the department depends on the levies to operate. There’s also a 1.3-mill levy in place.

The Salem Parks Commission oversees six parks consisting of more than 337 acres, eight ball fields, six tennis courts, four basketball courts, 10 picnic pavilions, one swimming pool, one splash pad, the Swings & Things playground at Centennial Park, more playground equipment at other parks, wooded walking trails, the duck pond and the band shell at Waterworth Memorial Park, boats for fishing at the Salem Reservoir and numerous restrooms and drinking fountains. Besides Centennial and Waterworth Memorial, other parks include Mullins Park off of South Lincoln Avenue, Kelley Park off of Prospect Street, the park at the Salem Reservoir off of Gamble Road and the park located near the Teegarden Covered Bridge off of Eagleton Road.

The commission talked briefly about the campaign and putting signs out. The five-year levy was last approved by voters as a replacement in November 2014. At the time, the estimate was that the levy would generate $198,700 per year.

City council approved four ordinances Tuesday night related to the levy, two seeking certification for the 1-mill levy from the auditors for both Columbiana and Mahoning counties and two to place the levy on the ballots in March as a renewal, as introduced by Councilman Ron Zellers, who chairs city council’s Parks Committee.

In other matters, Franks said he’ll be looking at the park evaluations for Waterworth Memorial, Centennial, Mullins and Kelley and putting together a five-year plan for improvements along with possible costs for the various projects.

“There’s a lot of stuff that needs done,” Panezott said.

The commission heard reports from Parks Foreman Jim Grimm and Recreation Supervisor Amber Smith, who thanked all involved in the recent Trail of Treats event, including the 41 candy distributors, 400 children and 200 adults who took part, the Salem Public Library, Morris Financial for the prizes and the Salem football team for helping with setup and tear-down. Panezott and commission member Lucille Karnofel both praised the football team and their coach Ron Johnson for their community contributions and for a great season.

The next parks commission meeting is 4 p.m. Dec. 18 at the parks department building, 2222 Oak St.

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