State funds to aid 4 local projects

By Gary Budzak

March 21, 2014

Four projects in Delaware County were earmarked for a total of $1,570,000 in appropriations, according to Gov. John Kasich’s recently unveiled 2015-16 capital improvements budget proposal.

The proposed Delaware Veterans Memorial Plaza between the YMCA and the Ohio Army National Guard Training Center would receive $320,000. Project leader Steve Cuckler told The Gazette the City of Delaware will add $50,000 for the plaza, which will honor veterans from all of America’s wars.

“We are very grateful to the leadership of Governor Kasich and our state legislators in honoring all of our County’s veterans and their sacrifices in securing our freedom, past, present, and future,” Cuckler said in an email. “This investment by the State, combined with the efforts of our City leaders, is deeply appreciated, and I know (the late) Councilman Jim Moore is looking down at us with a big smile.”

Cuckler said $170,000 still needs to be raised from private funds to construct the $540,000 plaza this year.

“We are optimistic that we will raise the remaining funds necessary from the private sector in the coming months,” Cuckler said. “This is going to be a memorial that will honor our heroes and provide a sanctuary for reflection. It will be a gathering place for our schools, community, and families for generations to come.”

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, located in Powell, will receive $1,000,000.

“We submitted requests to the state for funding assistance for improvements for three areas of the Zoo – the North America region (constructed in the mid 80s it is the oldest region of the Zoo), entry village (to improve guest flow and amenities) and Shores area (developing the green space into an area for guests to play, interact and relax),” Zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters said in an email. “Our request totaled $1,342,000. Since we are not receiving the full amount requested, meetings will take place to determine how the money is allocated.”

The Strand Theatre, which will turn 100 in 2016, will receive $150,000 for renovations, including the purchase and installation of a new HVAC system. The Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association said it has raised more than $523,000 to renovate the movie house since it was formed in 2008.

The county’s portion of the Ohio to Erie Trail will receive $100,000. According to its newsletter, the Ohio to Erie is “a network of trails from Cincinnati to Cleveland, using lands formerly occupied by railroads and canals.” The county’s portion of the trail runs from Westerville to Galena, and extends to Centerburg in Knox County.

“As introduced, it’s my understanding that the request is for phase II of the project including the purchase of property between the bike path and Scenic Kokosing River for access to the river for recreation use including a pavilion, additional paving on the bike trail not included in Phase I, and upgrades to the north terminus area it the bike path to compliment the existing community park,” Ohio House of Representatives spokesman Michael Dittoe said in an email.

“It would be between Meredith State Rd and North County Line Road, connecting to the completed segments in Centerburg and Mt. Vernon,” Dittoe said.

For the first time since the Great Recession of the late 2000s, Ohio’s capital budget contained $2.4 billion in funding for projects.