Liberty gets grant to ease flood issues

LIBERTY — The township has been awarded a $450,000 grant to repair drainage issues at Center Park, Trumbull County commissioners and Liberty Township trustees recently announced.

The park is expected to undergo a multitude of repairs funded through American Rescue Plan money from the state. Center Park, an 8-acre recreation area, is located behind the Liberty Township Administration building at 1315 Churchill Hubbard Road. The park features five baseball fields, three picnic pavilions, a gazebo and a walking trail.

“There hasn’t been much money for repairs since it’s been there,” trustee Arnold Clebone said Friday. “We’ve kept it up as best we can. Trustee Greg Cizmar has been doing a great job trying to keep it going with what we’ve got. But with this money, we can really do a great job and really enhance what’s there.”

Clebone explained that the park’s history is “great,” but as for its condition, he said, “There’s a lot of flooding issues, trees that have to be removed, and branches falling down.”

Cizmar and Clebone also mentioned that the park is a “regional draw,” due to the number of residents from neighboring municipalities who also use its facilities.

As stated in the grant application, an estimated 30,780 users, including 11,513 Liberty residents, will benefit from the project because of its frequent use.

“Most measurable impact on meeting recreation needs are the organized baseball games played on the five fields within the park that bring players and spectators from throughout the region,” the application stated.

These games include the two annual softball tournaments where 97 teams, totaling 1,500 youth from Girard, Youngstown, Warren and Western Pa. play; 10 organized Liberty boys and girls hardball and softball teams ranging in ages from 4 to 6 for tee ball to 18 year old’s competing in the colt leagues; and the Liberty High School team.

The township and commissioners wrote in the application that the repairs are needed to keep the park an enjoyable and safe space for recreation.

In the May 9 proposal to the state, Liberty Road Superintendent Wayne Hickman included that costs for construction, design, inspection and contingencies would reach an estimated total of $201,820.

Other items estimated to have a cost of $100,000 to $250,000, depending on the extent of the overhauls, include: Hard surfacing the dirt path that encompasses the western area, enabling it to be maneuverable with walker or wheelchair; restoration of three pavilions, or gazebos, that would include painting and replacing rotted wood; restoration of five baseball fields, including replacing fencing and bleachers, repair of dugouts and resolution of infield.

Legal counsel for the county and township determined that the application indicated that the park does not have adequate drainage, and therefore, is often flooded during heavy rain days. “This renders the ballfields and walking paths unusable,” a letter from Baker-Dublikar law firm of North Canton read. “The application also indicated the park has not been upgraded since its original construction four decades ago.”


Trumbull County Commissioner Denny Malloy said with the American Rescue Plan funds, the county’s goal is to distribute to as many townships as possible, to make sure all parts of the county got “a piece” of the money.

“The townships were able to submit their best requests to us,” Malloy said.

“This was Liberty’s request. It does fall within the guidelines of the federal government. We believe in community, and there are literally hundreds of people at those ballfields every weekend, whether it’s for soccer, baseball or softball. I’ve been there myself, and seen some of the drainage problems out there after it rains. If you have to cancel and delay games, it screws up everybody’s schedules and kind of wastes a day.”

“Economically it’s great because people bring their sports teams here, Clebone said. “They’ve been bringing them here despite that (drainage issues), but there’s been a lot of questions as to how long the fields are going to be good with the flooding that goes on.”

Clebone also mentioned that the pavilions and a walking path at the park are deteriorating, and he has received positive reactions to the idea of the improvements being made.

“I think we have to really thank the commissioners because the regional draw is an asset to the whole county,” Clebone said.

By improving the drainage issues, Malloy explained that safety risks are eliminated, while also providing more quality, family time for the community to come together and celebrate.

“We encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy nature,” Malloy said. “And that’s the best thing, especially since COVID, for people to be outdoors. And it falls right in the guidelines of what we want.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Daniel Newman by email at dnewman@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @TribDNewman.


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