New life on the horizon for 5th St. park

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5th St. field as it looks today.

By Carol McIntire

Editor

Plans are taking shape for a project to breathe new life into the former “5th St. Field” at Carrollton.

Carrollton Schools board of education plans to donate 9.5 acres of land that makes up the 5th field and park to the village of Carrollton, which has some exciting plans to transform the site into a park for use by all ages.

“How often do you get almost 10 acres of land donated to you inside the village?” asked Carrollton Village Administrator Mark Wells on a recent phone call with The Messenger. “We’d be crazy not to turn it into a park the entire community could enjoy.”

Wells said the village has some money set aside, about $115,000, and is applying for grant funds for other aspects of the project.

“We know we will have to complete the project in chunks, but we are excited about getting started,” he stated, noting school officials expect to have necessary paperwork for the transfer completed sometime in May.

The first item on the agenda, once the transfer is complete, is to install a new, large all-inclusive “Play Structure” in the center of the existing quarter mile dirt track. The structure was purchased in 2020 and was to be installed at one of the village-owned parks located on the outskirts of the village.

The $100,000 piece of play equipment was purchased at the discount price of $50,000, thanks to the manufacturer, Game Time, which put in the other half of the cost.

“With the onset of COVID-19, which disallowed the gathering of volunteers to complete the project as budgeted, the equipment remains in crates,” Wells explained.

When the plan for the school to donate the land to the village became viable, Wells said he knew the perfect spot for the equipment would be at the new park.

He hope to assemble people for a community build this summer to install the equipment, but according to Wells, “With COVID-19 mandates still in place, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen.”

The village obtained a quote of $28,250 from DWA, the company through which the play equipment was purchased, for them to assemble the play equipment.

Wells now plans to apply for a Nature Works grant to help pay that amount. A public hearing is scheduled April 26 at 6:30 p.m. in village hall to discuss the application.

“About $26,500 will be available to the entire county through the NatureWorks program this year,” he noted. “We plan to apply and hope to get a good portion of the money it will cost to install the equipment,” he continued noting the NatureWorks grant is a 75-25 grant, which means the grant pays 75 percent of the cost and village the other 25 percent.

The deadline to apply for the NatureWorks grant is June 1.

That is only the first step in the project.

There are also plans to install a paved walking track around the existing quarter-mile dirt track.

“We are working with Tim Thompson of Carroll Asphalt and he tells me it looks doable,” said Wells, adding the track will not be the entire width of the present track, but about seven-to possibly eight feet wide.

“Our hope is to get the play equipment and track installed this year and then look at installing ADA (American Disabilities Act) touchless restrooms, a pavilion and additional play equipment in the future. In 2022, there is a grant available that has a $500,000 pot of money and we are going to take a shot at getting some of it. We have some money set aside, and if went get some grants, we can make this a very nice park for the community.”

He is also researching the possibility of tying the park into to Ann Green Park with some type of walking track.

“The possibilities are almost endless,” said Wells, the excitement evident in his voice as he spoke. “Almost 10 acres in the middle of the village is an incredible gift.”

Dr. David Quattrochi, Carrollton Schools superintendent, is also excited about the possibilities.

“The board of education is in agreement with the donation and we are working out the details as we speak,” he said during a recent phone call.  “I am excited to see the village making plans to turn the area into a village park. We are happy to be able to facilitate the project by providing the land.”

For several years, the  5th  St. field was home to the Carrollton High School track program. The past several years the, area was used by the school for physical education classes, junior high football/track and field practice as well as summer recreation softball leagues. When the new school was completed on  SR 332, the district no long utilizes the facility. The existing baseball field is used and maintained by the Carroll County Youth League, a local non-profit organization, according to Wells.

“The leadership of our community is excited about the potential of this project to create a safe, centrally-located ‘all abilities’ family recreational area in a time when it is needed the most,” Wells said.

The two groups anticipate the transfer will be completed in May.

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