By RON CRAIG
Improvements to H.P. Eells Park were major topics of discussion when Bettsville Village Council met Thursday night. One the ideas floated to council members came from a Tiffin man who wants to hold special events at the village park.
Nate Mullins said he could help make the park profitable for the village, providing council members with ways to attract people to the park again. One of those ideas would result in re-opening the quarry to swimming. He also wants to hold musical events there.
“I have experience in musical arts and have been involved in festivals,” Mullins said. “I have investors chomping at the bit to work with me on a project like this.”
Mullins said he had talked to council member Stan Poe about the park plans, and the two took a recent tour of the land.
Mullins said he has connections with several tribute-type bands that could perform at the park.
“I’d like to have six of these (musical) events every year, one a month from May to October.”
Mullins wants to lease park space from the village, which would provide income for Bettsville. In return, Mullins would charge a nominal fee for swimming and for camping spaces he would develop at the park.
“I took some photos of the park’s layout, and I think we could put about 180 camping spots in there. I could plat them out, have water and electricity installed, and have it turned into a nice campground area,” the Tiffin man told council members.
The park already has a sewage disposal facility that could act as a dump station for campers. This would eliminate the need for individual sewer lines to each campsite.
Village Administrator Jon Dabrunz cautioned Mullins and council members that the ground at the park has rock not far below the grass surface. He said that could pose potential problems in trying to install water and electrical lines to the campsites.
Mullins also said he would fund the Fourth of July fireworks display that restarted this year after donations were received to fund them.
“This could turn into a cash cow for the village,” Mullins summarized.
Councilman Rob Toy said such plans could be beneficial to the village and its residents.
“We’ll need to dig into the nuts and bolts of this,” Toy said.
Mullins said he would attend the next council meeting on Aug. 1 with a business plan outlining his ideas in writing.
Toy brought forth his own park improvement suggestions, feeding off an idea council member Steve Turpin floated to council last year. Installing splash pads at the park could entice people to the park, Turpin said at that time.
Toy said he has found some potential grants that could be used to purchase splash pad gear, along with other playground equipment. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources may be able to provide funding for such a project, Toy noted, adding another town in Ohio got about $200,000 in similar grants.
“We got a lot of positive responses,” Toy said regarding social media feedback when the splash pad idea was first presented. “We’ve got enough brains at this table and in this room to make this work.”
Mullins said the splash pad area would fit perfectly into his plans for park improvements.
Toy asked for the group’s blessing to continue efforts to check into grants to purchase the equipment, which he received.
In a related matter, Mayor Gary Harrison reported the Fourth of July fireworks display at the park went well. He reported donations for the event fell about $900 short of expenses, including $630 for law enforcement protection from 6 p.m. to midnight.
In other business, council approved a 2018 budget, showing total general fund revenues of $255,856 against anticipated expenses of $374,995. A positive general fund balance at the end of this year offsets the difference between 2018 revenues and expenditures.
Mayor Harrison informed council members a new contract with the sheriff’s office will result in a deputy beginning work in the village next week. It was initially anticipated the deputy would begin his new duties July 1.
Council gave permission for a “ghost walk” to take place in the village Aug. 4.
Lisa Swickard of Ft. Seneca gave a presentation to council, asking approval for the event, which Swickard said allows local history to link with the paranormal. The event may also include the participation of a psychic.
The event will be conducted from 9-11 p.m., and the cost would be $15 per person.