Park district working to acquire land near bike trail

LISBON — The Columbiana County Park District is working with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to acquire 30 acres near the Franklin Square area of the Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail.

The park board met recently to give the WRLC permission to seek a grant through the Ohio Clean Fund program to acquire 34 acres on its behalf, with the board committing to provide the 25 percent in matching funds needed to qualify for the grant.

Park board President Dottie Betz said the property is located just south of Franklin Square where the bike trail crosses Lisbon Road and actually abuts all four corners of the intersection. The WRLC has been in talks with the property owner, who is interested in selling, and the park board agreed to provide the matching funds necessary to qualify for the grant and take ownership of the property if the grant is awarded.

The grant application deadline is early February, and officials should learn within several months whether it has been approved.

“It’s all very preliminary, but it sounds very promising,” said park board member Tom Butch, who is also a member of the WRLC.

Once acquired, the property would be placed in a conservation easement, which allows property owners to retain agreed upon rights but with certain restrictions that protect it from future development.

There is a house on the property, along with a pond and some wetlands and woods. The board decided it does not want the home and the 4 acres it sits on, which will be split off and sold to a private buyer by WRLC, leaving the park district with 30 acres.

Butch said the park district would like to put a parking lot for the bike trail on the property.

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