SPRINGFIELD TWP.: Wanted: Folks with strong backs and a desire to be part of their community.
Township residents are invited to bring their shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows on Saturday to help improve the community by constructing a community trail.
Volunteers are asked to meet officials from participating groups in the trail project at 10 a.m. at Schrop Intermediate School, 2215 Pickle Road.
The Springfield Community Trail will skirt a 23-plot community garden, travel past the school through a tree-filled private property, then around the William O. Dotson Springfield/Akron JEDD Park.
Township officials began conceptualizing a looping trail two years ago, when Betty Kearn, a Schrop Intermediate School physical education teacher, suggested the project to help bring a trail closer to her students.
While Doug Foltz, director of parks and recreation for the township, took the ball and ran with it — he is quick to give credit where it is due.
“It was Betty’s idea. I am just the facilitator of the project,” said Foltz.
Kearn said Thursday she expects to incorporate the trail into the school’s fitness regime and also have the 150 students in the school’s extracurricular running club use it.
The trail will be constructed with labor from volunteers and township employees. There were no blueprints, no engineering studies, no architectural plans and no need to take bids on the project. Planners simply got a map of the area, drew lines where they wanted the path to be, asked for approval from all the property owners involved, then rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
It is much more cost efficient and a way of avoiding the bureaucratic red tape that is normally required when a community takes on a project, said Foltz.
Materials and the small amount of outside labor necessary to complete the trail will be funded by a $13,500 grant from the Springfield Board of Education and a $16,000 Creating Healthy Communities grant from the Summit County Public Health Department.
“Its taken a collaborative effort between government entities and private parties to make this a resource for our residents to enjoy,” he said.
AESCO Electronics owner Bill Feth has offered the township the use of a portion of the land behind the intermediate school, which will take the trail through a wooded area on his property. The city of Akron, which owns the sports complex in a Joint Economic Development District with Springfield, has given its blessing.
The township hopes to complete the project for far less than the usual $50,000 projected for a trail of this kind and within the $29,500 in grant money it has secured.
On Thursday, Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice was digging up turf for the trail and Kearn’s father, Dave Hohlbaugh, was laying a 6-inch stone aggregate base preparing the path for volunteers to top off with a finer grade limestone. Both men are contractors and are working at greatly discounted rates, said Foltz.
Community leaders envision the trail will be used by parents and children between games in the sports complex that includes four ball fields, a soccer field and indoor restrooms.
Down the road, Foltz envisions applying for grants for signage and exercise stations — incentives to create a healthier lifestyle for residents and visitors — while keeping labor costs down.
“I’m all about helping ourselves and by doing things in house,” he said.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com.