BATH TOWNSHIP – Green County Parks & Trails (GCP&T) Director Jon Dobney paid a visit to the Bath Township Board of Trustees’ meeting Aug. 1 to reveal the ongoing plans for Pearl’s Fen and other parks in the county.
Dobney, who was name GCP&T director in January, told township trustees that grant funding awarded in 2017 was used to purchase a residential property on Byron Road in the township where GCP&T will be constructing a main entrance into Pearl’s Fen. The entry area will include a small parking lot and posted information about the 15-acre fen. The park agency also plans to build trails throughout the fen and boardwalks in lower areas of the wetlands.
“Pearl Fen is a high-quality wetland with unique habitats. Yet, in the past, we had no access to it except through a small easement,” Dobney said. “We are going to tear down the house we purchased, replace the fence, and create a nice entrance for visitors.”
According to Dobney, the project is moving swiftly and is expected to be completed as early as this fall.
“Hopefully, we will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and we will invite you (township trustees) to tour the fen with us,” said Dobney. “Pearl’s Fen is a real gem, and we hope to see people in this community hiking its trails.”
Dobney also talked about the ongoing projects at Cedar Cliff Falls at Indian Mound Reserve. The 169-acre park is located west of Cedarville on U.S. Route 42 and offers one of the most diverse areas managed by GCP&T.
“I believe that place is the most iconic spot in the Greene County Parks system, but you could barely see the waterfalls because of all the undergrowth. So, we hire a contractor to clear the vegetation and now, visitors have a beautiful view of the falls,” Dobney noted.
Several layers of packed gravel were also added to the hiking trails at Indian Mound Reserve, and GCP&T officials negotiated a deal with the Village of Cedarville to create a direct connection to the hiking trails at the reserve from village property.
“Students from Cedarville University would have to walk down U.S. Route 42 to access the trails. Now they have direct access to the trails through the Village of Cedarville,” he said.
Dobney noted that the park agency had recently received engineer’s drawings for two observation decks that will be built at the edge and on top of the waterfalls. Those projects are expected to be completed in late fall or early winter.
He also pointed out that a number of improvements and construction projects are underway throughout the county’s network of parks and trails, including the Russ Nature Reserve, located at 2380 Kemp Road in Beavercreek. Major renovations are being made to the 4,000-square-foot ranch home at the nature reserve which will be used as a multi-use venue center. The first flushable toilets in the county park system have been installed at the reserve, and plans are underway to build a large gazebo.
“We are able to do this with funding provided through the 0.9-mill levy that voters approved in 2015,” Dobney said. “We want to demonstrate that we are worthy of your trust. We want to see more people in our parks.”
Taxes from the 5-year levy generates approximately $3.3 million a year for GCP&T. Each year, a portion of those monies are set aside for grants that are given to other entities, according to Dobney. The township meeting moved to the Bath Township Park, located behind the township office at 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Rd., where Dobney and the township trustees inspected the worn playground equipment.
After inspecting the equipment, Dobney advised the township trustees regarding the protocol for applying for annual grant funding from GCP&T to help purchase new playground equipment for the park. Dobney is also providing information to the trustees about purchasing a jungle gym.
In a 3-0 vote, the township trustees approved replacing a majority of the playground equipment in the park with new, safety-approved equipment.
“We thank Mr. Dobney for visiting with us and providing information about Pearl’s Fen, the parks in Greene County, and grant funding available for our park project,” Township Trustee Steve Ross said.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.