Effort to transform Hithergreen property into a park goes forward

The Centerville-Washington Park District’s ability to secure grant funding to demolish the former Hithergreen Center building in Washington Twp. and turn the property into a park, has taken a major step forward this month as approval is imminent for the funding to be awarded for the project.

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The Hithergreen Center, 5900 Hithergreen Drive, closed several years ago when the township moved senior programming to other township facilities.

Nick Meyer, planning and project manager for the park district, said the ability to secure grant funding to demolish the building and turn the property into a park would help be a win-win situation for the township and residents, who have voiced their approval for such a plan.

Meyer said the park district entered into a contract with the township Oct. 8 and submitted an application for grant funding to the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund to fund the project.

“If we don’t get the grant, the park district wouldn’t move forward with the project,” Meyer explained after the grant proposal was submitted.

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Kristen Marks, programs manager for the district, said the details of what the funding would be used for includes the purchase of the land (14 acres) and demolition of the building, as well as, site improvements. She said the park district was told on Tuesday they have moved forward in the process to receive the grant funding.

“The (grant review) committee recommended to the state Public Works Commission that we receive the grant funding, so now we are just awaiting official word as to whether or not we receive the money,” Marks said.

The grant application was submitted requesting funds of more than $500,000 and would towards covering the estimated $750,000 cost for the project. The township will sell the property to the park district and then there would be approximately two years to make the project work according to Marks.

“Assuming we receive the grant funding we only have so long to use that money before it would go away,” she said. “Within in the next two years you would see vast improvements or more park-like improvements to that area.”

We haven’t done a site plan for the park, but being in a neighborhood it will be consistent with our other neighborhood parks,” Marks said. “We are fortunate on that land that there is a waterway that runs through it and some wooded areas so it looks like we could have a combination of uses there.”

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Washington Twp. trustees in September of 2017 approved a rezoning of the township-owned land at Hithergreen Drive as part of a deal to sell the land for $250,000 to developer Tom Peebles. He planned to divide the nearly 15 acres of land into green space and 30 residential lots. Previous plans also included a proposed assisted living facility.

In May, however, voters rejected a zoning amendment that would have permitted Peebles to build homes on the lots.

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