AUBURN — Township trustees are working to obtain a $30,000 NatureWorks grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to help build a picnic pavilion at the Auburn Community Park off Munn Road.

Overall cost of the pavilion is estimated at $50,000

Alicia Beattie of the Chagrin River Watershed Partners is helping the township with the grant application due on June 1.

Ms. Beattie said the Chagrin River Watershed Partners is able to assist with developing the Ohio NatureWorks applications as a service to member communities such as Auburn. Projects can include playgrounds, gazebos and parks, she said.

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

Last year, the township was unsuccessful in landing half of a ODNR $46,000 grant. That grant went to South Russell Village for a playground in the village park off Bell Road.

Auburn Trustee Patrick J. Cavanagh said the township will apply for the full amount of this year’s grant and the township will pay for what the grant does not cover. The open-air pavilion will cost in the range of $50,000. “Someone might want to donate toward the project,” he noted.

The grant will not be awarded until October and then the money comes in, he said. “We will have a solid application,” Mr. Cavanagh said. The community park is popular and the proposed 40-by-50 foot picnic shelter is needed, he said.

It is expected that it will be well used by homeowners’ groups as well as by families for special occasions such as reunions and birthdays. “I’m sure it will get a lot of use,” he said.

Trustee Mike Troyan said the township seeks grants any time projects that benefit the community are being proposed. ODNR has been good with the funding, and this is perfect timing for the township, he said.

“The picnic shelter is the next natural step for the park,” Mr. Troyan said. “We’ve learned from other grant applications and hopefully we’ll get the grant and have a nice facility for Auburn residents.”

An existing building at the park is used for storage. It has an 8-foot porch area that is often used by many for sitting, but does not accommodate many people. The building is sometimes used for a concession stand during the Kenston Community Education youth sports games at the park.

The proposed picnic pavilion would be built near the south end of the parking area and near the playground.

The park includes 67 acres with about 11 acres of flat land for athletic fields, including soccer, football and lacrosse. There are wooded areas for walking.

“There is a lot of excitement about a picnic pavilion, and it seems to be a high priority for people,” Ms. Beattie said.

In 2016, the watershed partners assisted Auburn Township with its successful NatureWorks application for a playground at the township park, she said. The watershed partners also assisted Auburn with a 2018 application for a picnic pavilion but it was not awarded. The funder provided feedback that more public input was required to demonstrate community need before re-applying, Ms. Beattie said.

Residents have responded to the survey on the township’s website and the township is hoping for more feedback before the June 1 grant application deadline. Letters of support are being gathered as well. There is a minimum 35-percent match requirement.

A signed resolution of authorization needs to be submitted with the application committing the funds not covered by the grant, Ms. Beattie said.

The park was formerly the farm property of the late Jim and Ruth Cathan. The township purchased it in 2007 from the late John Cathan with involvement of the Chagrin River Land Conservancy, now the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. The conservancy had bought the land from Mr. Cathan in 2006 and then sold it to the township with a conservation easement. It was farmed by Bill Timmons for corn and crops.

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