Metro Parks, Serving Summit County has taken a big step toward building a nature center in northern Summit County.
Commissioners last week authorized park personnel to seek bids for the new Liberty Park Nature Center off Liberty Road in Twinsburg.
Constructing the building and adding site improvements, utilities and furnishings will cost about $2.4 million, park district planner Paul Wilkerson said.
Designing and building the exhibits will cost an additional $250,000. That design work already has begun.
The project will be advertised in January or early February with bids being sought in February or March. Construction will begin next spring and likely will be completed by late 2014, Wilkerson said.
The preliminary plans are “98 percent” complete and will be wrapped up soon, said Lisa King, the park district’s landscape architect.
Wilkerson said getting the nature center built is one of the park district’s top priorities for 2014.
The project has been in the works for a long time, said Keith Shy, the park district’s director-secretary.
“Wonderful” is the way that commissioner Francis Buchholzer greeted the Liberty Park news.
The park commissioners also agreed to seek bids for two other high-priority projects: an extension of the Freedom Trail and the first construction at Wood Hollow Metro Park in Hudson.
The park intends to extend the Freedom Trail from Southwest Avenue in Tallmadge to Eastwood Avenue in Akron, a distance of 2 miles. Phase 2 of building the bike-and-hike trail will cost about $615,000.
The first 4-mile trail section from Southwest Avenue east to the Tallmadge-Kent border opened earlier.
A third leg, also 2 miles, will take the trail from Eastwood Avenue west to Akron’s Northside Station and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.
Construction is likely be begin in the spring and be done in late 2014, Wilkerson said.
The Wood Hollow project includes construction of a roadway to the 225-acre park, parking lots and toilet facilities. That work, expected to cost slightly more than $1 million, will begin in the spring and be completed in late 2014, Wilkerson said.
The park is off Barlow Road west of Stow Road in southeast Hudson.
A picnic shelter will be added later, Wilkerson said. Some trail work has been completed.
The park district also signed a $165,000 contract with the Oxbow River and Stream Restoration, based in Delaware in central Ohio, to design the third phase of turning Pond Brook into a more natural stream.
The project will begin south of state Route 82 in Twinsburg Township and extend south to where the once-ditched stream empties into Tinkers Creek, a key Cuyahoga River tributary. The project will cover about 7,500 linear feet of Pond Brook.
The design work will take place in 2014, with construction in 2015, Wilkerson said.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.