After receiving 14 bids for the Welton’s Gorge project, the Geauga Park District Board of Commissioners awarded the $365,000-bid to Zerbe Construction, LLC on Tuesday morning for the Burton Township property improvements.

Officials originally budgeted the project at $435,000.

Dubbed the “Welton’s Gorge Improvement Project,” the improvements on the nearly 87-acre property has 2.7 acres of developable land. Currently, the property is only accessible through naturalist-led hikes, but improvements to the soon-to-be park will make the gorge accessible to the public.

The Geauga Park District acquired the land at no cost from Burton Township back in September 2010.

Since the plan was first presented to the board in May by park planner Dan McConnaughy, Director of Planning and Operations Matt McCue said the plans have not changed outside nailing down small details with engineering companies.

In July, the commissioners awarded the bid for contracting professional design and engineering services for the property to The Mannik & Smith Group of Shaker Heights for $58,384.

The improvement project will include a picnic shelter with the capacity of about 48 people, a single restroom, a 20-car aggregate parking lot and the installation of trails, Mr. McCue said.

As for the timeline of the project, the park district is looking to early fall for its completion.

“Realistically, it’s kind of weather dependent,” McCue said. “The hope would be to get started with construction in the spring. That could be anywhere from mid- to late-April to May.” He said the park district is hoping to have the project completed toward the end of September or beginning of October.

Mr. McCue noted that Zerbe Construction was the low bidder for both Frohring Meadow updates last year and the overlook at Sunnybrook Preserve two years ago.

“We had no issues, they were easy to work with and I thought they did quality work,” he said of the Mentor-based company. “So, we have some familiarity there.”

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