Calcutta Park Expansion Planned with Property Purchase

CALCUTTA, Ohio — Well-known for its busy commercial “strip” filled with retail businesses, this St. Clair Township community also has a historic district officials want to see developed.

To that end, St. Clair Township Trustees recently purchased a 0.077-acre parcel of commercial property at the intersection of Calcutta Smith Ferry and Sprucevale roads with an eye toward developing green space. Purchased from Triple A Real Estate LLC for $230,000, the land sits directly across the road from the township park – which was built by the Calcutta Rotary Club utilizing a Clean Ohio grant then donated to the township – and a vacant piece of land previously purchased with donations which is earmarked for parking.

Fiscal Officer Deb Dawson said the purchase was made using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding, which can only be spent for a handful of reasons, emphasizing infrastructure such as repairing or paving streets is not eligible.

These parcels of property at the intersection of Calcutta Smith Ferry and Sprucevale Road in Calcutta were recently purchased by St. Clair Township for expansion of the existing township park.

Officials sought legal advice and learned the ARP funding can be used for travel and tourism or health factors encouraging outdoor activities. It was determined developing green space qualified.

“We had to think outside the box, and this was one way,” Dawson said. Trustees also hope to provide broadband service to township residents with some of the funding, he added.

Initial plans being looked at for the property include a possible entertainment area with an amphitheater that will enhance the existing park with its salute to veterans and picturesque gazebo. Although the booming business district remains vital to the township’s success, trustee Chairman Jim Sabatini pointed to other communities that decorate their town squares and gazebos for holidays and special occasions.

“Why can’t we have that? We deserve to have that here,” Sabatini asked.

In addition to the ARP funding used for the initial purchase, Sabatini and Dawson said grants are available for developing the property and possibly to raze an abandoned house situated on one parcel. Purchasing the property and developing it will not only provide additional green space but help with some blight issues beginning to surface on the parcels, such as the vacant house, Dawson pointed out.

A timeline for the project has not yet been started. Sabatini said it will take some time. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he said.

In other economic development matters, Sabatini announced Monday the former J. C. Penney store in the Summit Square (Walmart) Plaza is being remodeled to house a T.J. Maxx department store. The renovation work began Monday and is scheduled to continue through May, officials reported.

Pictured at top: Backed by the St. Clair Township business district, the park in Calcutta offers a serene place to sit, relax and reflect. Township officials want to expand the park utilizing property recently purchased across the road.

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