July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Montville Twp. revives plan to turn Blue Heron into public park

Montville Township trustees have a second chance to purchase the former Blue Heron Golf Course and convert it to a public park.

A previous plan to partner with a company managed by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy fell through, but a new buyer has emerged and Trustee Jeff Brandon said the township plans to enter into a five-year lease-to-purchase agreement with the company, Medina-based C&C of Ohio LLC.

“They’ll complete the purchase relatively soon,” he said of C&C. “I think they’ve got most of their details worked out.

“I believe we’ll work out a lease-purchase agreement for at least a large portion of the former golf course property.”

Eight Blue Heron parcels totaling more than 100 acres and valued at more than $1.4 million is owned by 6061 River Styx LLC

Medina attorney Gregory Happ, who represents 6061 River Styx, said the Western Reserve Land Conservancy board of directors voted May 9 to terminate a tentative agreement between Bloomfield Land Co. LLC, a for-profit company that is managed by the conservancy, and 6061 River Styx.

“We’re working on several aspects to get this transaction completed, and negotiations are going on as we speak,” Happ said.

According to a township news release, C & C will repurpose portions of the closed River Styx Grill restaurant and golf course pro shop into additional offices and retain the banquet center for conferences.

Brandon said the township only would lease the vacant golf course land and not the buildings.

The news release said the township will pay about $500,000 for the property — about $250,000 less than trustees originally estimated in January — with a plan to take full ownership after the five-year lease agreement.

C & C will finance the purchase of the land and lease it to Montville at a cost of $1 plus property taxes per year.

Brandon said the township also has filed a grant application with the Clean Ohio Grant Fund through the Ohio Public Works Commission. If awarded, the grant could cover up to 75 percent of the cost of the land, he said.

“We’d like to obtain this for the least amount of money out-of-pocket as possible,” Brandon said.

Trustees will lease about 250 acres of the golf course once the deal is complete. The land will be kept as a passive recreation area and nature preserve for all township residents to enjoy.

The property has more than 7½ miles of paths for running, walking and biking, rolling meadows with views of the rural landscape, a large undisturbed native woodland and over four miles of natural streams that feed into the west branch of the Rocky River.

The project would bring Montville its third township park.

The township has Whitetail Park south of Poe Road and Cobblestone Park next to Ralph E. Waite Elementary School.

The 27-hole Blue Heron course opened in 2005 but has been closed for two years. The clubhouse, which included a restaurant, is vacant and the golf course is overgrown.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.