WELLSTON, Ohio – On Saturday, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and numerous local dignitaries celebrated improvements to the Wellston Recreation Complex with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“Engrained in ODNR’s purpose is the mission to encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “This project writes a new chapter for the area by offering more opportunities to play, fish, and walk.”
The Wellston Recreation Complex project is funded by the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program provided by the U. S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE). The AMLER Program provides grants to the six Appalachian States, including Ohio, with the highest amount of unfunded Priority 1 and Priority 2 Abandoned Mine Land (AML) problems. That money speeds up renovations at AML sites with new projects that advance community development and the local economy.
“We are so excited to be able to assist the City of Wellston in improving something in their community that will provide joy and memories for years to come,” said ODNR Division of Mineral Resources Management Chief Benny McCament.
At completion, nearly $2 million will be utilized for improvements at the Wellston Recreation Complex. The project development, design, and construction oversite was provided by the ODNR Division of Mineral Resources Management.
“People of all ages and interests will benefit from this project’s numerous improvements enhancing baseball, softball, soccer, fishing, and walking path opportunities,” said Make Wellston Beautiful President Tami Phillips. “Participants in our many tournaments will appreciate significant facility enhancements to parking, access, and field lighting, which will make their visit to Wellston more efficient and enjoyable.”
Community involvement included the cooperation of Make Wellston Beautiful, the City of Wellston, and the Wellston City School District. The construction contractor for the project is Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc.
“I applaud and appreciate the efforts of everyone involved with this project, which brings incredible opportunities to our students of Wellston City Schools,” said Wellston City Schools Superintendent Brian Rau.
The City of Wellston was once a coal mining town that thrived during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Extensive underground and surface mining occurred in the Quakertown No. 2 coal seam. The recreation complex in Wellston is in a city park that historically was part of the Dayton Coal and Iron No. 2 underground mine operated by the Dayton Coal and Iron Company that was abandoned in 1910 (OGS # JKN-083). In addition, the area between what is now the city park, and the high school was surface mined and several pit impoundments remain.
In the last few years, Make Wellston Beautiful has made improvements to the Wellston park increasing recreational traffic onsite. The Wellston Recreation Complex scope of work included filling the hazardous water body while maintaining flow, and adding additional onsite parking to reduce or eliminate the need to park along the highway, which poses a safety hazard.
The project will create new recreational opportunities by making associated improvements at the park including baseball field lighting and expansion, a new soccer field and paved trails that will link the Wellston High School property to the complex. The increased visitation will create long-term economic benefits for Wellston and Jackson County as well.