Toronto, Steubenville getting recreation grants

TORONTO — City officials will use nearly $17,000 in state grant dollars to help transform an eyesore into what they hope will be a recreational masterpiece.

Mayor John Parker said the $16,825 grant, announced Monday by state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, will go toward installation of a basketball court at what eventually will be Lincoln Park.

The Steubenville Parks and Recreation Department also is receiving $45,495 for adult fitness units at Belleview and Jim Woods parks. Funding is through the NatureWorks program, administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and used to help local governments develop outdoor recreational areas

Parker said the grant money will help Toronto breathe new life into an old property.

“Lincoln is an old, abandoned school property,” Parker said. “We did the demo, got rid of the old building. We want to take something old and put something new in for people who live in that area. We’re limited on green space and recreational space, so it’s taking something that sat there as an eyesore and turning it into something positive.”

The initial grant is just the beginning, though. Parker said a basketball court could easily cost as much as $60,000 or $70,000, “but that’s probably on the low end.” He said they’ll have to lay asphalt and install fencing, plus “the actual hoops themselves are probably $2,000 to $3,000 apiece. Then there’s the poles, striping, labor …”

“We’re going to try to stay with the budget, within the funding we have available for it,” Parker said. “We’re hoping to keep the total cost down, it depends on the bells and whistles. It all depends how fancy you want to go with it. We’re also looking for additional grants to help (with the cost.)

“We’re starting from scratch here. We’ll continue to look for grant funding, chip away at it. It may not be done overnight but we’ll do it in stages, as we can afford it.”

Parker said city officials are excited to get the grant.

“Everyone worked hard in the (application) process, to get grants and receive funding,” he added.

“We’re hoping to put a first- class facility up there — this money will help pay those costs. We’re excited to get (it).”

Steubenville Parks and Recreation Director Lori Featherolf, meanwhile, said she’d been approached by a number of residents who were interested in developing adult fitness opportunities at the parks.

“It’s actually a really big thing right now,” Featherolf said. “(The equipment) will be put at Jim Woods and Belleview parks, right by the playgrounds, so families can go. Kids can play on the playground while (their parents) work out.”

“I had eight or 10 people ask me for something like that at the parks, then I went to the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association conference and several vendors were selling equipment, so I got to see it,” she said.

Featherolf described it as “ninja warrior type equipment, nothing can get stolen or broken off.” She said anyone age 13 and up can use it, “so you can work out as a family — mom and dad and kids.”

“I’m really excited,” she said. “We do a lot for kids. I just thought it was time to do something for adults.”

Cera, a member of the legislative panel providing oversight on capital and operating expenditures by state agencies, said Belmont College also received about $354,881 to assist the school with purchasing work force-based training and equipment geared toward “in-demand skills” needed to fill jobs of the future within energy industries and health care professions.