Monument, project receive $1.1 million

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times The Start Westward Monument/East Muskingum Park Restoration Committee visits the national monument in the park Wednesday celebrating the award of $1.1 million dollars toward a $2.5 million goal.

Historic preservation and park restoration in Marietta just got a $1.1 million boost.

The Start Westward Monument/East Muskingum Park Restoration Committee celebrated the Ohio Department of Transportation funding award Wednesday with lunch and a visit to the sandstone national monument facing Front Street in Marietta.

“Our first priority is to thank all of the people who have helped us and saw the vision for protecting the national monument, it has national implications and regional implications for the whole state,” said Jean Yost, head of the committee. “Next we’ll have to prioritize our first phase of construction after we get the report back for what needs to be done to restore and preserve the monument. What are the urgent spots that need repairs?”

The monument was sculpted in 1937 by Gutzon Borglum, known for his work on Mount Rushmore, as a celebration of the sesquicentennial celebration of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.

But in the last 20 years, the wear of weather has shown on the sandstone figures of pioneers.

“Even though it’s a national monument, it wasn’t taken care of,” said committee member Joe Grimm.

But with funding secured through $5,000 in individual donations, a $25,000 private donation, $50,000 in Community Development Block Grant Funds, $500,000 in state capital appropriations and now the $1.1 million from the ODOT, the momentum is building.

“It is through the tremendous hard work of everyday citizens like Jean Yost and Tony Durm that great things are happening in our parks,” commented Councilwoman Cindy Oxender, who is chair of council’s lands, buildings and parks committee. “They had a vision and put a strategic plan in place that with the help of many at the local and state level is now becoming a reality.”

In total, ODOT released $15.4 million in its Transportation Alternatives Program funding for the state fiscal years 2020, 2021 and 2022 to cover construction of multiple projects in counties, cities and townships across the state. Washington County also saw the award of $761,089 for the Hills Covered Bridge rehabilitation under the direction of the Washington County engineer.

The $2.5 million project plans to restore not only the sandstone monument in the park, but also initiate a phased approach to additional lighting for and potential widening of the River Trail, consistent wayfinding signage throughout the park and city museum district, additional parking and ADA accessibility for the Ohio River Museum and Settler’s Bank Adult Park, additional lighting up Washington Street from the bridge to Third Street, Knox Street, St. Clair Street and Allen Street, period-styled improvements to the gazebo and landing to the Muskingum River and additional permanent restroom facilities in the park.

“We’ll also be looking at other grant opportunities in the meantime to complete the project,” added City Development Director Andy Coleman. “The Ohio Department of Natural Resources land and water conservation fund we’ll be eligible to apply again in 2020 if council blesses us to go after that.”

Preserving the park and providing a clear path to local museums is also a plus for tourism, said Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Deana Clark

“This is huge for Marietta and Washington County and it’s really exciting to see the plan getting so much support,” she added.

By the numbers:

¯ Four projects in southeastern Ohio were selected for funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program. One project was in Athens County, another in Meigs County.

¯ The final two:

¯ City of Marietta: Start Westward Project Phase 1 – $1,100,000.

The addition of historic period street lights along Front Street, Washington Street and the museum district similar to the lighting downtown. The addition of parking along Front Street and at the existing lot under the Washington Street Bridge will service the Ohio River Museum and the River Trail pedestrian and bike path.

¯ Washington County Engineer: Hills Covered Bridge Rehabilitation – $761,089

This project will renovate the Hildreth “Hills” Covered Bridge. The project will replace the deteriorated timber members within the lower chord, shear blocks in the lower chord, deteriorated diagonals at lower chord connection, lost and broken sway bracing, two tension rods, broken rod castings and miscellaneous repair of deteriorated timber members which in turn will repair the global racking of the truss. Completed repairs will once again allow pedestrians to walk across the bridge.

Source: Ohio Department of Transportation.