April 20, 2014

Hazy moonlight

Lodi makes repairs as bicentennial looms

LODI — Council’s Parks Com­mittee is beginning to fix up the village’s three parks to prepare for Lodi’s bicentennial in 2011.

The gazebo in Memorial Park recently was repainted and given a brick facade, and the shingles on six shelters in the Community Park were replaced with green metal roofs.

Lodi is hoping to accomplish more park improvements by the time bicentennial festivities begin in February 2011, said Council­woman Letha Mapes, chair­woman of the Parks Committee.

“Last year we came up with a revitalization plan, but it takes money and a lot of time to com­plete,” she said. Community concerts have been held at Memorial Park twice this year as a way to bring the community together before cele­brating the village’s 200th birth­day, Mapes said. The Farmers’ Market also has been brought back on Sundays.

“We’ve lost the family feeling in Lodi, and we want to bring that back and start getting more fami­lies to live here,” Mapes said. “Our goal is to beautify Lodi and make a better community.”

Among the largest projects in the park revitalization plan is to replace the bridge at the entrance to the Community Park off Elyria Street. Any time it rains heavily, the bridge is flooded, cutting off access to the park. Reducing ero­sion and improving aquatic plant and animal life also is a concern, Mapes said.

The village applied for a $10,000 grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation last year to rebuild the bridge but was rejected.

The Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District has set aside $10,000 to help the vil­lage demolish the bridge so it can be rebuilt, she said.

“They have graciously set aside $10,000 for us, but we’ve been unable to take it one step fur­ther,” Mapes said.

The village must come up with $100,000 to replace the bridge, she said.

Finding money to fund the park improvements is a chal­lenge, Mapes said. The Parks Committee has budgeted about $70,000 every year, which must be used for salaries as well as cap­ital improvements, she said.

The village received a slight boost in funding from park dona­tions made in the name of the late Thomas Longsdorf, a former councilman and mayor. About $4,000 was donated to the park district after Longsdorf’s death in April.

About $3,000 of that money will be used to demolish the field­house at Letha House Park, which Mapes said has small amounts of asbestos and is expensive to maintain and improve.

The village is applying for a grant through the Letha House Foundation to build a pavilion in its place and make improve­ments to the basketball courts at the park.

This year, the village replaced the roofs on the dugouts at Letha House Park and planted eight trees. In the future, Mapes would like to see a skate park on the site, with plans to apply for a Tony Hawk grant to construct the skate park. Hawk is a professional skateboarder.

“Our kids don’t have enough to do in town,” Mapes said. “We have a lot of skaters who don’t have anywhere to skate.” The park’s master plan includes the construction of 15 to 20 miles of trails around Lodi, something Mapes expects to cost at least $1 mil­lion. The trails would be paved in four phases, beginning with a trail along the east branch of the Black River in Community Park.

The remaining phases would build trails along Bank Street leading to Garden Isle Road, from Medina Street to Harris Road, and along Wooster Street south toward Lodi Station Outlets off state Route 83.

The village is applying to the Clean Ohio Fund to help pay for the trail portion of the proj­ect, Mapes said.

“We want to revitalize our downtown area,” she said. “If people drive through and see how pretty our parks are and how much we care about the community, they might want to stop and explore.”

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@medina-gazette.com.