Annexation furthers Fairfield’s plans for land along Great Miami River

Another Butler County community is taking steps to get more recreational use — including a possible campground area — out of land along the Great Miami River.

MORE: A Fairfield goal for 2018: Add a new dog park to well-known Black Bottom

The city of Fairfield will annex nearly 28 acres of Fairfield Twp. land commonly referenced as Black Bottom — property the city already owns and that is tax-exempt — before it begins converting it to a park along the Great Miami River.

“We want to annex it primarily because we cannot actually do any enforcement on the property if it’s not already in the corporate boundaries in the city of Fairfield,” said City Manager Mark Wendling.

The city, which has owned the land since 2004 when it purchased it from a local mining business, also owns the adjoining 4-plus acres in Ross Twp. City officials said they also intend to annex that property.

MORE: Region ready to embrace Great Miami River after long estrangement

When the land is built upon, he said the city’s police officers and park rangers will have the legal jurisdiction to patrol the property.

The city manager said annexation has been discussed with Fairfield Twp. officials in the past.

“We pretty much already serve that part of the township already, and we do not charge for that,” Wendling said. “We would be the first responder.”

Fairfield Twp. Trustee President Susan Berding said she’s “disappointed but understands the city’s position,” and hopes they can work on other projects in the future.

This property has long been intended to be an expansion of the Marsh Park on River Road.

The Journal-News reported earlier this year that as the quality of the river’s water has steadily improved the past four decades, communities are increasingly creating recreation options — such as canoeing, camping and bicycling increasing biking and hiking trails — along the waterway.

The first project at Black Bottom will be a long-awaited dog park, which is set to begin construction later this year. Also proposed on the property is a boat ramp and an extension of the Great Miami River trail that includes a trail head and a possible campground area.

Today, Marsh Park is a 30-acre fishing lake and walking/biking trail, but eventually city planners intend to transform it into a 170-acre crown jewel in the city’s park system. Local business Martin Marietta at the end of 2017 donated its mining operation to the city, which was an agreement made more than five decades earlier, and the park will become an “L” shape with three lakes. The half-mile walking/bike path will be transformed into a 3.1-mile trail connected with the Miami-to-Miami trail. It will also be connected through that trail to the undeveloped Black Bottom property.

Ultimately, the city intends to make Marsh Park a regional attraction. The city requested $100,000 from the state in its last capital budget requests to expand the park by five acres to the north, but was denied funding.

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