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Open Space Project outlined

Russells Point officials celebrated the beginning of an ambitious village growth project with an open house Wednesday evening, inviting community members and local officials to review project materials with project leaders and architects.

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ABOVE: An aerial view of the area that will be home to the Indian Lake/Great Miami River Open Space Project. The 2-mile walking track will connect with an existing sidewalk that bisects the village along the former railroad track line, and extend in a continuous loop along the west side of the Great Miami River in what is now an open 52.3 acre field, generously donated to the village by the Rudolph (Foods) family. U.S Route 33 east of the village is seen on the right. BELOW: Donations still are needed to fill out the top of the “funding tree” for the Indian Lake/Great Miami River Open Space Project. FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Community members review and discuss the Indian Lake/Great Miami River Open Space Project during an open house Wednesday hosted by Russells Point officials. (EXAMINER PHOTO | RICK PITTS)

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In June, the village was awarded a $500,000 Ohio Public Works Commission Clean Ohio Fund grant to support the Indian Lake/Great Miami River Open Space Project. The 2-mile walking track will connect with an existing sidewalk constructed more than a decade ago that bisects the village along the former railroad track line, and extend in a continuous loop along the west side of the Great Miami River in what is now an open 52.3 acre field, generously donated to the village by the Rudolph (Foods) family.

Parking will be available at the municipal building where existing walks connect through neighborhood paths to the project.

Monies from the Clean Ohio Fund are granted “to restore, protect and connect Ohio’s natural and urban places by preserving green space and farmland, improving outdoor recreation, and cleaning up brownfields to encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities.”

“We are very proud to be able to do this,” said Mayor Robin Reames. “This is a unique and rare opportunity for our community to have such a generous commitment from a landowner to donate land to the village and the funds will allow the village to complete the project,” Mayor Reames said.

The project will preserve and expand an existing freshwater emergent wetland and riparian forest, and create a succession meadow and wildlife habitat.

“As we continue to develop, it’s important to consider green space for who was there first,” she continued, referring to the wildlife indigenous to the area.

Along with the aesthetics and preservation benefits, the project will serve to ease some flooding issues associated with the nearby river, while showcasing the natural beauty of the locale, “which will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the entire Indian Lake community.”

A comprehensive outreach to the businesses, organizations and residents of the community is under way. The village also hopes to garner donations/sponsorships for park benches, trash receptacles and other necessary materials to complete the project. In lieu of donations of materials, volunteers are needed to assist in cleaning the site, maintaining the trail and other forms of service.

“Community involvement is a paramount goal of the entire project,” Mayor Reames related.

Officials anticipate the area being used not only for trail access, but for educational interpretations and study, and observation of the enhanced riparian environment.

While much of the funds for the project have been secured through the grant and matching and in-kind donations, an additional $103,000 in donations is needed to satisfy the village’s requirement to match the $500,000 grant for the plan. Officials also are seeking various forms of assistance from civic and school service groups, “similar to the (state) Adopt-A-Road program.” The mayor said suggesting “Mowing will need done.”

Advertisements for bids to complete various stages of the project are expected to be posted in January or February and officials hope to break ground in March.

For more information or to donate or volunteer, contact Mayor Robin Reames, Village of Russells Point, P.O. Box 30, Russells Point 43348; call 843-2245; or visit 433 State Route 708.

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