Fairfield set to buy property for park expansion

Fairfield city officials say they need a three-acre piece of property in order maximize the potential of what will soon be a 170-acre park.

The city is still a few years from realizing the development of Marsh Lake Park, which will included the adjacent property that was once the gravel and sand mining operation for Martin Marietta. And a 3.3-acre parcel at the corner of Gray and River roads can improve the park's safety, visibility and flexibility, said Fairfield Parks Director Jim Bell.

“It gives us that opportunity to have more options,” he said.

This will also help with accessibility to the park from the neighborhood to the south, Bell said.

“That’s one of the major complaints, that it’s too dangerous to walk from the neighborhood to Marsh,” he said.

The plan for Marsh Lake Park is to develop it into 170-acre crown jewel for the city's park system, and the city has included MetroParks of Butler County and Butler County Visitor's Bureau into the development conversation. The plan for what Marsh could develop into are still being discussed, said Bell.

The key feature of the property, which the lion’s share is undeveloped, are its three large lakes — one of which was created following the 60-plus-year gravel and sand mining operation of Martin Marietta. But the undeveloped portions of the property needs work, namely lake banks must be stabilized and much of the land must be reclaimed.

The park sits on top of the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer which runs from Logan County to the Ohio River. The aquifer fills up the now three lakes at Marsh, the largest of which is the current fishing lake to the south and is 70 to 80 feet at its deepest. The other two lakes range from 10 to 30 feet deep.

The city is expecting to pay slightly under $86,000 as its potential portion of a Clean Ohio grant, which it will apply for by the Oct. 7 deadline.

“It’s going to be good frontage,” said City Engineer Ben Mann. “The lake’s a little bit hidden while this corner piece is highly visible to people traveling by.”

The development of that southern corner of the park will cost just under $336,000, which includes the $265,000 purchase price for the property. The property does have a home, barn and other structures, but what will happen with those structures is yet to be determined, according to city officials.

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