NEGLEY - An access road into Beaver Creek State Park that was facing possible closure will remain open for now thanks to a state grant.
Middleton Township trustees were notified a few weeks ago that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has agreed to pay up to $9,000 for chip-and-seal work on Echo Dell Road.
The money will cover one layer of the surfacing material, and the work is targeted for sometime next spring as part of the county's chip and seal program.
The money is part of other efforts to keep the township road open. The county engineer's office has also agreed to provide and install a needed culvert pipe and catch basin, and in October the Ohio Department of Transportation donated 50 tons of grindings to the township, which the road crew put down soon after.
Trustees Nancy Michaels, Eldena Gearhart and Timothy Pancake began discussing the road's possible closure in July, citing lack of funding for its maintenance as a reason.
They said the narrow, steep and winding half-mile of Echo Dell Road that lies within the township was becoming too dangerous to use. The road is owned by the township, although state park land lies on either side, and serves as the northern entrance to the park.
Needed maintenance includes repairing the erosion caused by the lack of proper drainage. Trustees said the road was becoming too dangerous-especially for the road crew's oversized vehicles that can barely fit through to provide the necessary maintenance.
Trustees said in October that improvements needed in order to keep the road safe for motorists would cost upwards of a million dollars. Guard rails, which currently don't exist there, were included in that estimate.
The township is unable to pay for the improvements as a result of less money being received through state local government funding.
Gearhart said the layer of chip-and-seal will "absolutely" improve the road but that trustees will continue to "keep an eye on" it.
"Once we get the culvert in and get some of that water off there it should be better, but if the road continues to (have water run-off), that will be a problem," she said.
Trustees have yet to decide if they are going to pay for a double layer of chip-and-seal.
Gearhart said the decision will depend on how much local government funding is available and how harsh or mild this winter is.
The township will be receiving slightly more money through a 2-mill, five-year road replacement levy approved by voters last month, but that levy won't take effect until 2014.
The levy is expected to generate $111,700 annually, up from the $73,500 the township is collecting on the current levy.