McKelvey Lake preservation grant sought

Published: Tue, January 10, 2017 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken


The Mahoning County commissioners have enacted a resolution supporting an application for a state grant that would enable the purchase and permanent protection of McKelvey Lake and environs on Youngstown’s East Side.

The commissioners voted Monday to support an application by the Natural Areas Land Conservancy for an $836,729 grant for this purpose from the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program of the Ohio Public Works Commission.

The Moreland Hills-based conservancy, a nonprofit organization devoted to protection of Ohio’s natural areas, would provide the remaining 25 percent of the $1,115,638 project cost as a match to the grant.

The effort would be to acquire 400 acres, including the lake, located three miles east of the city’s downtown, and the forested land near the lake for potential use as a park or wildlife reserve.

McKelvey Lake is one of Aqua Ohio’s water source lakes.

McKelvey Lake and the surrounding acreage is owned by Aqua Infrastructure LLC.

Aqua has agreed to sell the lake and environs if the grant is awarded, said Annemarie DeAscentis, grants and special projects coordinator in the county commissioners’ office.

Jennifer Johnson, area manager for Aqua’s Struthers Division, could not be reached to comment as to why Aqua is willing to sell the lake and the surrounding land.

“Preservation of the property with a perpetual conservation easement will safeguard its abundant natural assets, which include the approximately 125-acre McKelvey Lake and the diverse flora and fauna to which the lake and its surroundings are host,” the commissioners’ resolution said.

The conservancy seeks to establish the lake area “as an open and inviting community green space and passive recreational area suitable for activities, ranging from hiking and picnicking to kayaking and cross-country skiing, within an urban neighborhood that urgently needs an outdoor recreational amenity of this sort,” the resolution said.

In an adjacent area, the city successfully applied in 2005 for a $265,000 Clean Ohio grant, with which it purchased 200 undeveloped wooded acres between the city’s Lincoln Park and McKelvey Lake – an area known as “Youngstown’s Wilderness.”

The Clean Ohio Program “is dedicated to environmental conservation, including acquisition of green space and the protection and enhancement of river and stream corridors,” according to the OPWC website.

A stream, known as Dry Run, flows into McKelvey Lake and out of McKelvey Lake to Lincoln Park and the Mahoning River.

“Grant recipients agree to maintain the properties in perpetuity, so that they can be enjoyed and cherished for generations to come,” the commission says.

Friday is the deadline for the final grant application to be received by the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

McKelvey Lake has the potential to become a recreational asset similar to Lake Milton, said Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, who lives in Youngstown.

The commissioners appointed David Ditzler as their president and Anthony Traficanti as their vice president for 2017 and set their regular meetings for 10 a.m. Thursdays in the county courthouse basement.

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