By Jon Moffett
Youngstown will receive almost $20,000 to improve Crandall Park.
Four parks have been awarded grant money from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for facility and recreational-area renovations.
More than $50,000 has been earmarked for projects in Austintown Township Park, Crandall Park in Youngstown, the 18th Street Playground in Wellsville and Willow Grove Park in Lisbon.
The money comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and NatureWorks grants and will fund 93 projects statewide totaling more than $2.5 million.
Dameyon Shipley, ODNR recreation services administrator, said the money comes from reimbursement programs, which repay public entities up to 75 percent of the total cost. The NatureWorks grants offer 75 percent reimbursement. The LWCF grant repays 50 percent.
Money will go toward many projects that Shipley said will help provide more enjoyment of the outdoors to patrons.
Youngstown will receive almost $20,000 to develop a pavilion and walkway in Crandall Park. Lisbon received more than $5,000 for picnic tables and park stoves, and Wellsville received more than $13,000 to develop a playground. Austintown received about $16,000 to repair and renovate two basketball courts.
Joyce Gottron, park supervisor for Austintown, discussed its project. Officials from other parks did not return messages seeking comment.
“It means a great deal to not only the park system but to the community as well,” she said. “There are a limited amount of basketball courts in the community, and ours are used quite frequently.”
Gottron said the two full courts haven’t had significant work done in about 15 years. The grant was written in February and had a March deadline, she said. The hope was to have the courts completed this fall, but the project is now expected to break ground in the spring because of the weather.
The area also will feature a paved walkway to make the courts more handicap-accessible, Gottron said. She added that a variety of people — from children to senior citizens — use the courts.
In addition to repaving the actual courts, the fences, backboards, posts and nets will be replaced, Gottron said. The project is estimated at about $23,000, and the township would be reimbursed $15,975.
One stipulation for the funding is that the projects must be completed by Dec. 31 of next year. Gottron said the deadline won’t be a problem, and the renovation project should take about a month to complete.
Gottron said some phases of the project, such as replacing the fencing, could begin in mid-November once all the appropriate paperwork is filed.
Once the project is finished, it will be a big plus for the township, Gottron said.
“It’s a real upgrade for the community and for the park,” she said. “And I’m very excited to get this project done.”