Champion Rec Center

ARP Funding Brings Champion Recreation Project Within Reach

CHAMPION, Ohio — After decades of discussion, Champion Township’s plans for recreational greenspace just off state Route 45 could soon be realized, thanks to $350,000 from the American Rescue Plan and other windfall monies, says former trustee Brian Bugos, whose term ended this month.

The 60-acre project  — first devised during the 1990s — would cost approximately $500,000, says Bugos, who helped spearhead the new effort. This would cover the expenses of a professional site survey, wetland study, utilities, relocation of soccer fields, concession stand, driveway and parking lot, stormwater management, playground relocation preparation, equipment shed, restrooms and grand pavilion, along with engineering work.

About a dozen acres adjacent to Champion Township Cemetery, Champion Local Schools’ campus and the Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail would be used for the initial portion, he says.

There are currently five soccer fields, but the project presents an opportunity for expansion, Bugos says.

He emphasized that no taxpayer dollars are being used for this space, which will relocate Champion Youth Soccer and Champion Adult Soccer Leagues, which has more than 700 participants. The addtional funding comes from community donations and federal dollars invested into capital improvements.

Aerial view of the proposed rec center.

“Through some investigation with the Ohio auditor’s office we found that we could utilize a portion of [the ARP] money for outdoor recreational facilities due to the impact of COVID has had on our recreational facilities that currently exist within the township,” Bugos said. “We were able to allocate that as well as some other windfall dollars for completing this project.”

Baker, Bednar, Snyder and Associates Inc. engineered plans for this project.

“We have initiated the first portion or first phase of that work, which has someone of a defined scope,” said Andy Bednar, principal of the firm.

Bednar adds there is no timetable for this project, as his company and township trustees are still exploring the best ways to move forward while maintaining the budget.

The stormwater management requirements on the site have to be addressed, and that process awaits the input from a surveyor. He said ground could be broken sometime this spring, “but at this point that remains a hope.”

“Surveyors tend to be busy right now,” Bednar said. “A lot of projects are somewhat slowed down awaiting that information.

“What we don’t want to do is to take any steps without properly addressing those critical issues.”

Once that survey is completed, all stormwater management issues will be addressed, along with layout locations of the soccer fields, the pavilion and design of parking and driveways.

Rendering of the pavilion with seating and a concession stand.

“We have all of that preliminary developed, however that was done without the benefit of a survey,” Bednar said. “We’ve gone pretty much as far as is appropriate to go without a survey.

“We have had the wetlands delineated on this property and have uncovered no surprises, which is good news. Champion and our firm are proceeding in a methodical way to make certain that we do things properly.”

Within the project are vehicles for fundraising to generate capital for implementation of future endeavors at this site through donations of trees or sponsored bricks for walkways, Bugos said.

Bednar is encouraged that this project has remained on or below budget so far.

“The concern moving forward is the high cost of construction these days – material availability and things of that sort that may have a negative impact on some construction costs,” he said. “We are working in close conjunction with Champion to make certain that budget is first and foremost in our minds.”

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