A lease between Wapakoneta City Schools and the village of Cridersville for park land should be mutually beneficial, school and village administrators say.
Approximately 7 acres directly south of the new Cridersville Elementary School, on Reichelderfer Road, are being leased to the northern Auglaize County village for $1 for the length of the 99-year contract.
The property is to be used to develop into a nature park, with walking paths.
“The schools will benefit from it as well as the village,” Wapakoneta City Schools Operations Director Mike Watt said.
He said the district wanted to maintain ownership of the property if it were needed in the future, however, any growth of school facilities is expected to be to the east.
Cridersville Village Administrator Jarid Kohlrieser agreed that the lease helped both the village and the school district.
“They are always good about working with the village,” Kohlrieser said of Wapakoneta City Schools. “They can utilize the park and we plan to work as a team as we develop it into the future.”
Kohlrieser said Phase I of the project includes further development of plans and a parking lot. The first phase is being paid through a more than $3,000 Nature Works grant Cridersville received this spring from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“It’s going to be a long process because the amount of funding we need is not available,” Kohlrieser said. “We will gradually work on it and see what grants are available to help develop the area.”
Kohlrieser said the long-term conceptual plans for “Delong Pioneer Park” include shelter houses, a pond, wetland and meadow areas, a boardwalk, bird blinds and amphitheater.
The park is named for George DeLong, who purchased the property in 1835.
“There are all kinds of ideas, which can be revised or changed as we go along,” the village administrator said. “As money becomes available we will do more.”
Terms of the lease require the village to develop the property into a recreational area at its own expense — constructing an asphalt parking lot of 15 to 20 spaces, walking paths, climbing structures, shelter houses and a possible amphitheater, according to the lease.
The village also is responsible for maintenance and repairs. The agreement may be terminated after 30 days notice.