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The Hermitage Athletic Complex, pictured here, was one of three local projects selected to receive state grant funding.

Two Mercer County municipalities will receive more than $425,000 in state grants for three recreation-related projects.

The Commonwealth Finance Authority issued the grants to Hermitage and Greenville. State Sen. Michele Brooks, R-50, Jamestown, and state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-7, Hermitage, announced the grants.

Hermitage city officials will use a grant of more than $183,000 to expand the Hermitage Athletic Complex, with the funds going for the purchase of almost 18 acres to the north and adjacent to the complex, which is at 750 S. Darby Road. The complex covers 55 acres and includes mixed-use fields, baseball and softball fields, walking trails, restrooms, and a concession stand.

Though there is no planned use for the complex expansion, Hermitage City Manager Gary Hinkson said the new land offers the only opportunity for future expansion because it is landlocked on the other sides.

“We felt it was practical to take advantage of this opportunity,” Hinkson said.

City officials originally considered buying about 20 acres from Unisix LLC, but Hinkson said the city and the company have since agreed to purchase a little less than 18 acres. The purchase will cost$197,538, with the city covering the remaining 15% after the grant, or about $30,000, Hinkson said.

The city Board of Commissioners voted last month to execute a sales agreement with Unisix LLC, and city officials put down a $5,000 deposit for the land. Hinkson said he expects the purchase to be completed by the end of the year.

Hermitage also received $31,043 for its Bobby Run Restoration project, which would look at restoring about 750 feet of the Bobby Run stream west of South Hermitage Road and north of Longview Road, Hinkson said.

The project is mandated by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which found Bobby Run was impaired due to pollutants, mainly phosphorous. The stream must be rehabilitated by March 2023, Hinkson said.

Rehabilitation will include improvements to the stream itself and the bank, by adding a mix of wood and rock base to the stream channel, as well as creating wetlands and introducing plant species that will naturally filter out the stream’s phosphorous levels, Assistant City Manager Gary Gulla said.

Wallace Pancher Group of Hermitage will be retained to assist the city with the project, Gulla said.

The project is expected to cost $300,000 total, and city officials are still applying for additional grant funding to cover the project’s remaining cost. Work on the project is expected to begin in late 2022 and will be completed within in a couple of months, Hinkson said.

In another grand announcement, Greenville received $211,857 for the town’s Restore Riverside Park project.

The project is being organized by the Riverside Park Revitalization Committee. Town Manager Jasson Urey said the committee previously performed improvements, which were completed last year, at Greenville’s Graul Amphitheater.

The group later identified other issues at Riverside Park, including 90 trees to be removed, 50 trees to be pruned, and 150 stumps to be removed, with at least 55 new trees planted. A basketball court in the area also needs new fencing, new hoops and a replacement of its asphalt surface. New pickleball courts are planned, Urey said.

Local sources have already raised $37,560 in donated money and services, so the grant funding will completely cover the remaining cost of the project, Urey said.

“Our goal will be to get a lot of that work done this coming summer,” Urey said.

Hinkson thanked Longietti and Brooks for their support toward securing the grant funding and supporting projects that will benefit the entire region.

Urey added that he appreciated the participation of the Riverside Park Revitalization Committee, particularly members Mary Reames, Barry Oman and Jim Tokar for their assistance.

“This is the kind of public-private partnership that makes these things happen, and it will reinvigorate the community and our park system,” Urey said.

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Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.

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