Success story in Reno

Tucked away behind the former Reno Elementary School on Sandhill Road, and surrounded by residential neighborhoods, the Marietta Township Park and Recreation Center is a favorite of folks from the Reno area.

“People are using the park facilities all the time. There’s a walking trail and playground, and ball field. And Reno school kids use the field for football practice,” said Marietta Township Trustee John Lankford.

The 7.5-acre property was purchased by the trustees from Marietta City Schools in 2004 for $260,000 after the school was closed.

Township trustee Steve Bober said that purchase is expected to be paid off this year.

“That’s 11 years earlier than expected,” he noted. “And we’re trying to run the facilities (including the township center building) without using tax dollars.”

He said maintenance and upgrade funding comes out of franchise fees, grant monies, and rooms, including the gym, inside the township building that are leased to organizations, businesses and other groups for various meetings and gatherings.

“Right now we have an application in for an Ohio Department of Natural Resources Nature Works Grant to build a picnic pavilion at the park in the near future,” Lankford said. “And the Reno Lions Club has agreed to provide matching funds for that grant.”

The available ODNR grant amount would be $30,000.

Megan Wiggins with the local Residential Home for the Developmentally Disabled (RHDD) said the agency’s clients often enjoy using the 1/3-mile walking trail and picnic facilities.

“They come out every day to get exercise and be outdoors,” she said. “It’s an ideal location and they feel safe here. The staff members also make use of the trail and picnic area. And during the summer there are a lot of local kids in the park.”

The walking trail and pavilion were among the top priorities planned for the park area when the property was initially purchased.

“We’re making improvements over time, so we won’t overextend ourselves financially for the property,” Bober said. “We’ve done a lot to the inside of the community building which is totally handicapped accessible with a renovated kitchen, heating and air conditioning.”

As for the park, he said a lot will depend on the amount of funding that becomes available. Bober said in addition to the planned pavilion, the trustees would eventually like to see some upgrade of playground equipment and outdoor restroom facilities.

“The ball field is available to local teams, but we ask that they call us first so that we can schedule practice or game times,” he said. “And we have a policy that any Marietta Township nonprofit organization can use the community building free of charge as long as it’s available.”