Park purchase for sports park prompts pushback

Warren County is buying Turtlecreek Twp. Park. The disc golf course there is to be moved across Ohio 741 to Armco Park. LAWRENCE BUDD/STAFF

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Warren County is buying Turtlecreek Twp. Park. The disc golf course there is to be moved across Ohio 741 to Armco Park. LAWRENCE BUDD/STAFF

Warren County is buying another 22.4 acres for the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village.

The acquisition of the Turtlecreek Twp. Park offers a place for teams to congregate between games in the short term and room for expansion of the park - currently under construction - in the long term.

It also activated a naturalist and advocate for the county park system to press for more attention to “habitat destruction in the name of progress,” and again angered neighbors who still expect to suffer from traffic and other problems once the 120-plus acre park opens.

On Monday, the county’s port authority board approved purchasing the land on Greentree Road, just east of Ohio 741, from Turtlecreek Twp., which had developed a park featuring a disc golf course

RELATED: Trustees agree to consider selling park

The port authority would then lease it — along with the 100-plus acres already under construction for the sports complex — to the county’s convention and visitors bureau.

The port authority is to pay $200,000 for the land.

RELATED: Neighbors, club upset by developments at sports park

The township is to keep the rest of the land, about 6.5 acres, for expansion of the fire station adjoining the park, near the intersection of Ohio 741 and Greentree Road, according to Matthew Schnipke, deputy director for the county’s Office of Economic Development and secretary of the port authority.

Last September, the township trustees indicated they would be willing to sell the park for the sports complex project.

On Thursday, Larry Easterly, director of the county park district, said the disc golf course would be resurrected at Armco Park across Ohio 741 in late spring or early summer after consultation with course designers.

The land purchase, and implications for the park, prompted Dave Woehr, to mount a campaign intended to encourage those developing the county known as Ohio’s Largest Playground “includes nature and our significant natural resources,” he said in a series of emails following the initial report of the land buy.

RELATED: County buys township park for sports complex

Woehr, a state certified naturalist and members of the Friends of the Warren County Park District, was critical of the impacts of the disc golf course on what he called “The Otterbein Trail” through woods leading onto land still owned by the Otterbein retirement community.

But he called for an environmental impact study “that justifies destroying this once-unique and pristine habitat” and identifies any American Indian or Shaker artifacts on the land, once part of 4,000 acres owned by a group of Shakers before being sold to churches that established Otterbein.

Woehr also contacted a range of local leaders in hopes of triggering “open, transparent community involvement and dialogue regarding the preservation of Warren County’s rural character.”

While the woods could be cut down as Otterbein develops the Union Village planned community, there are no current plans to remove them, except for a strip already removed to make way for a road connecting sections of the sports park book-ending the township park.

RELATED: Warren County approves $16 million in debt to pay for sports complex

Martin Russell, director of the port authority, said an environmental impact study would be completed before the county closed on the parkland purchase.

The township park includes a developed road system and entrance.

Last fall, county officials considered acquisition of the park to enable redesign of the park to at least reduce the need for driveways off Greentree Road, across from their homes on New England Way.

Since then, the county has approved roadway improvements calling as many as three driveways on Greentree, two near New England Way.

"We were told this was not feasible. Now they come out and say they are taking the land anyway," New England Way resident Brad Bean said in a comment on the Warren County News Facebook page.

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