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Streetsboro gets $995,000 grant from EPA to protect 116 acres off Route 303

Grant awarded to protect rare American High Bush Cranberry

by Mike Lesko | reporter Published: December 4, 2012 10:39 AM
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Streetsboro -- The long wait is over.

The city received a $995,000 grant from the Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program -- the final step in paying for the 116-acre Verna M. Beck property.

The land, which is located in the flood-prone area of Route 303 between Jefferson Street and the railroad tracks, was purchased by the city to prevent housing developments from being built there and so the city can create park land, officials said.

Mayor Glenn Broska said the grant was received Nov. 23 -- nearly six months after City Council approved the purchase agreement June 3.

"Obtaining the grant was a very lengthy process but well worth the wait," Broska said.

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Mike Settles, an Ohio EPA spokesman, confirmed the grant was received.

"It is a complicated funding system," he said. "The actual disbursement of the money went to the city [Nov. 23]."

The city paid $1.1 million for the purchase of the property, but the $995,000 grant covered most of the cost.

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy paid for the land until the city received the grant from the Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program.

The city will use the grant money to repay Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Broska said.

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With the grant, Broska said the city's final cost was $212,000, which he said works out to about $1,827 per acre.

Broska said the financial breakdown goes like this:

Purchase price -- $1.1 million for 116.59 acres.

Total cost including fees, closing costs and taxes -- about $1.3 million

Grant received by the city from the Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program, which will be used to pay for most of the cost -- $995,000.

Remainder owed by city after grant -- $212,000.

"The primary reason the grant has been awarded was to protect rare and endangered species on the property," Broska said.

Jeff Pritchard, Streetsboro's director of planning and economic development, said the property features the state's largest concentration of the American High Bush Cranberry, an endangered species. It also features a variety of other wildlife and plant species, he said.

Pritchard said of the 116 acres, 35 are wetlands, including 24 acres of class 3 wetlands, the most ecologically sensitive.

Broska said the city plans to build walking paths on the property.

"The park land will remain relatively undisturbed with only the addition of some walking paths and minimal intrusion into the natural aspects of the land," Broska said.

"The purchase of the property will not exacerbate flooding in that area by forever prohibiting the development of homes on that acreage."

Christopher C. Szell, associate director of conservation projects and stewardship for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, praised Streetsboro officials.

"The city of Streetsboro has leaders who understand the significance of protecting water resources and open space," Szell said. "Jeff Pritchard should be especially thanked for all his efforts.

"As the new owners of the property, the city leaders have provided an important asset to their community," Szell said.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9439

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