Lisbon will consider preservation effort
LISBON — Village council agreed to begin the process of obtaining a conservation easement to preserve Willow Grove Park area from development, but members stated they still have the option of changing their minds.
Council voted at this week’s meeting to authorize the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC) to begin the process of seeking state approval for an easement and to also apply for state grants funds to make it happen.
The WRLC’s Brett Rodstrom met with council two weeks ago offering to obtain a permanent conservation easement that would preserve 60 acres of village-owned park land on both side of the Middle Fork of the Little Beaver Creek.
The property owner is allowed to determine how the land can be used, including adding certain restrictions, but it cannot be developed, nor can the easement terms be altered once it is in place.
In exchange, the WRLC would seek a state grant to compensate Lisbon for entering into the conservation easement after the parties agree on a price. The WRLC recently paid the Boy Scouts $225,000 for a conservation easement on 180 acres at the Camp McKinley Boy Scout camp located just upstream from Willow Grove Park.
Prior to the vote, council member Jerry Cox wondered if residents whose property abuts the proposed easement area could purchase the park property from the village. The rear of Cox’s home on Sunset Drive overlooks a steep hillside that is in the proposed easement area, as do other homes on the street.
He suggested before entering into a final agreement with the WRLC they ask the others whose hilltop property abuts the area to determine if they are interested in acquiring the property. Cox said he would like to have the property behind his home because he already maintains it anyway, and many of neighbors likely do the same.
“I just think that should be considered …There’s the possibility we could get a lot more money,” he said.
Council has until Feb. 26 to change its mind about obtaining a conservation easement.
Mayor Peter Wilson suggested using the money from the easement to repair the community swimming pool. Council member Ryan Berg reported at the meeting he received an estimate for the pool repairs — $301,365 — which left his colleagues wondering how they could come up with that kind of money.
The pool was closed this past summer because of the COVID-19 virus, and council wanted to use the time to make repairs.
“I think we would be really be hard pressed to get the pool open on time next year,” Berg said.
He intends to obtain another estimate in the hopes it will be significantly less.
In other business, council voted to spend up to $1,200 to repair 10 noisy manholes located on East Lincoln Way. Officials thought the Ohio Department of Transportation was going to take care of the uneven manhole covers, but ODOT said that is Lisbon’s responsibility.