Auburn park goers will have a place in the future to gather for a picnic lunch under a new pavilion at the Auburn Community Park off Munn Road. Township trustees learned this week that Auburn is the recipient of a NatureWorks grant for $30,145.

They had applied for the grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the pavilion, and Alicia Beattie of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners assisted the township with the grant application. NatureWorks projects can include playgrounds, gazebos and parks.

The township has to contribute a minimum of a 25-percent match of the cost, according to Trustee Patrick J. Cavanagh who spearheaded the grant project. He said the rough estimate of the total cost of the pavilion is about $51,000.

He noted the Kenston Community Education boys’ lacrosse team is contributing $1,000 toward the project as well.

The NatureWorks grant is a state-funded program that provides up to 75 percent of a project’s cost. The grant required the application to explain the township’s budget, the need and how the pavilion will be maintained.

Trustees have discussed the need for a pavilion for several years, Mr. Cavanagh said. It was part of the township’s original plan for the park. “We received the full amount of the grant.” The community park is popular and the picnic shelter is needed, he said. It is expected that it will be well used by families for special occasions such as reunions and birthday and by area organizations including homeowners’ groups.

The final design for the pavilion is not completed yet, but it will be an open air structure, Mr. Cavanagh said, similar to one at the South Russell Village Park off Bell Road.

It will be about 40-by-50 feet, or in the range of 2,000 square feet. Currently, there is a storage building at the park with an 8-foot wide porch area often used for seating. The Boy Scouts use the porch when it rains, and youth football programs use it for a concession stand, Mr. Cavanagh said.

The new pavilion will be available for all groups, he said. It will be south of the existing parking lot and north of the playground and east of the present Dave Parker Building or storage structure.

“It is good news,” Mr. Cavanagh said of the grant. “And I’m proud we didn’t borrow for it.”

The NatureWorks grant is state funded and provides up to 75 percent of the project costs.

Trustee Mike Troyan has said the picnic shelter is the next natural step for the park.

He said they have been waiting for the grant for several months.

“We would tentatively like to start building in the spring,” he said.

“We have a land acquisition and improvement fund,” he said of the source of funds to be used by the township for the pavilion. He noted the Kenston Community Education boys’ lacrosse team is contributing $1,000 to the community park and that donation will be put into the fund as well.

Recent cable franchise fees of $2,624 were just placed into the fund. “Whenever we get those we put in the funds for projects like this,” Mr. Troyan said.

Parents will be able to sit at the picnic pavilion and watch their kids play under cover he said, adding that it will be a nice addition to the park.

The community park has 67 acres of land with about 11 acres of flat land for athletic fields, including soccer, football and lacrosse. Trails wind through the woods in the park as well. The area was once farmland owned by the late Jim and Ruth Cathan. The township purchased the land in 2007 from the late John Cathan. There is a conservation easement on the property.

The watershed partners also assisted Auburn in 2016 with its NatureWorks application to help fund the playground in the park.

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