Hundreds of residents in Mifflin Township will finally see construction begin this week on the long-awaited Leonard Park project to connect 120 homes to the city of Columbus’ water distribution system.
After decades of undrinkable tap water or wells that have run dry, the Mifflin Township neighborhood will finally see ground broken this week. Stephen Renner, director of Franklin County’s Department of Sanitary Engineering estimates that all residential service taps will be installed by the end of February, with the connection phase, the time when residents may connect to the new water main, beginning in early May. Final completion, including demobilization and reseeding is expected to be completed in July.
Leonard Park is a neighborhood in Mifflin Township in Franklin County bordered by Agler and Stelzer Roads. Residents have seen a diminishing source of well water throughout the years primarily because of the construction of I-270 and I-670 beginning in the 1970s. Over those years, residents have relied on the township’s service building, making frequent trips to the outdoor spigot they have been able to utilize.
“Getting water to residents in the unincorporated area of Mifflin Township is one of the hallmarks of my career as a trustee, and it has been a decades-long effort by all of the township trustees,” said Joseph Spanovich, Mifflin Township Trustee chairman and trustee since 1986. “It’s unimaginable in this day and age that anyone should be without water. Everyone deserves to have access to clean, safe water. ”
Mifflin Township trustees agreed to fund the initial design costs, which came to about $270,000, while the county covered construction costs, estimated at $3.15 million, with grants and loans. In the spring, Franklin County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution approving the hire of Columbus engineering and design firm DLZ Inc. for the project, and in recent weeks, residents have begun seeing materials delivered to begin the construction phase.
“Investing in our infrastructure makes a lasting impression on our neighborhoods and communities,” said Commissioner John O’Grady. “No resident in our community should have to buy bottled water or have water delivered to their home because they don’t have access to safe, clean tap water. I am grateful to all of the project partners who have come together to get this project started and I look forward to next year when we can celebrate our neighbors in Leonard Park who are finally able to pour themselves a glass of water straight from the tap in their kitchen.”
This is the first project since Franklin County and the city of Columbus came to an agreement to extend waterlines to unincorporated areas such as Leonard Park unless they were annexed to the city. The turning point was in 2010 after a dispute between Columbus and the developer of the Hollywood Casino was resolved, and the city granted annexation exceptions to 23 neighborhoods.
The final project will include about three miles of 6- and 8-inch water main being laid about six feet deep; 34 fire hydrants; and a looped system, which provides for a better water quality, and fire fighting ability.
Mifflin Township has a population of 35,710 making it the second-most populated township in the Columbus area and 17th-largest of Ohio’s 1,308 townships. It includes the city of Gahanna and unincorporated township area in northeast Franklin County. Leonard Park is part of the unincorporated area of Mifflin Township which is approximately 3.9 square miles with a population of less than 5,000.