MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Park District Director Lori Totman updated county commissioners Tuesday on several park projects, including a forthcoming expansion in Brinkhaven and the status of a lowhead dam removal planned by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Totman offered that starting Jan. 1 of next year, the park district will be expanding by taking over a lease agreement with ODNR for Brinkhaven Park, also known as the Brinkhaven Wildlife Area, for a lease term of 15 years. Brinkhaven Park, which mostly follows along the north side of US 62, is currently under a 10-year lease agreement between ODNR and the Village of Brinkhaven. But due to issues including mowing responsibilities, upkeep of the park has been a financial drain on the village so that lease is about to expire, she said.
The Knox County Park District, by taking over Brinkhaven Park, will expand its park offerings near the Mohican Valley Trail and the Bridge of Dreams, both of which enjoyed two highly successful events the weekend of Sept. 14-15, Totman offered. One was a Saturday event on Sept. 14, offering horse-drawn wagon rides from the Bridge of Dreams parking area on to the Holmes County line.
“It was something new and different we had not tried before,” she told commissioners.
The rides did not cross the Bridge of Dreams, as it had been closed for about six days in preparation for an appreciation dinner for park district volunteers the next day, which was attended by about 130 people, she said. Since closing the bridge for that many days to clean it was a major undertaking, it was a rare opportunity for a literal “above the Mohican River” bridge event that may not happen again anytime soon — a future similar event for volunteer recognition probably be held in a grassy area nearby.
“We posted (the temporary Bridge of Dreams closure) on social media and had signage out there on-site so the Amish (horse and buggy drivers) knew where to hop on and hop off,” Totman said.
She added this coming weekend on Saturday, the Bridge of Dreams and Mohican Valley Trail — which at full length, extends from the Holmes County Line to Danville — will be one of the stops on the traditionally agriculture-based Heart of Ohio Tour. Those driving to the event will be greeted by park officials at 16606 Hunter Road in Brinkhaven.
Still another advantage forthcoming through a 15-year lease of Brinkhaven Park is that it has three shelters with electrical hookups, Totman said. The park district will eventually place picnic tables and grills at the locations. What she described as some “retro”-style playground equipment will be removed from the park, but the village of Brinkhaven will offer new playground equipment closer to the village office.
Other updates provided by Totman included:
•The timeframe for removal of a lowhead dam by ODNR on the Mohican River has been pushed back from this fall to the fall of 2020, with several ODNR departments involved in the project. The lowhead dam is dangerous because its deterioration includes exposed rebar.
•The park district remains concerned that four-wheel vehicles and trucks traversing through eastern Knox County are violating state law by taking their vehicles into the Kokosing River near Riley Chapel Road and Bat Nest Park.
•Vance Surveying Ltd. of Mount Vernon has been hired to survey an area in Centerburg along North Clayton Street that involves knowing exactly where certain boundaries are in relation to plans to create a trailhead with kiosks, which the Village of Centerburg is planning as a visible way to welcome people into the area and the village’s locale as the beginning of the Heart of Ohio multi-use trail, which extends into Mount Vernon.
•A total of $11,300 in park district funds was spent over the summer to purchase a “bio-friendly seal coat” in order to place a seal over two bike trail locations — from the C A & C Railroad Depot to Columbus Road in Mount Vernon, and in Centerburg, from North Clayton Street to Huffman Road. The entire length of these projects was about two-and-a-half miles, Totman said.
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