COLUMBUS – Ohio Senate leaders announced Tuesday the introduction of Ohio’s $2.6 billion capital budget.
SB 310, introduced by Senate Finance Chair Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), is intended to support the state’s infrastructure priorities and fund “needed improvements to community services, school facilities, roads, bridges, waterways and parks.
More than $62 million is allocated for lake area projects. The massive Buckeye Lake Dam rehabilitation project accounts for $61,546,960 of the area’s allocation.
The tri-county Buckeye Lake Task Force requested capital bill funding for six projects totaling $4,587,500. The projects are:
• Corridor improvements for the Villages of Millersport and Buckeye Lake for $940,000. The project includes way finding and interpretive signage, street lighting, public art and pedestrian connections.
• Bikeway connector from Buckeye Lake Region to state bike path system at $987,500. Both Buckeye Lake Village and Millersport would be connected to the Licking County bike path at US 40. The project includes developing a county-wide bike path for Perry County and acquiring the remaining B&O right-of-way from the Licking County line to southern Perry County.
• Expanded jetty and pier at the North Shore park in Buckeye Lake Village at $750,000. The pier to be located at the start of the new dam would provide easy boarding for the Buckeye Lake Historical Society’s recently purchased 88 foot sternwheeler, a restaurant, fishing, coffee and gift shops and bike/kayak rentals.
• Acquire public access with a park to Buckeye Lake in Thornport at $1,000,000. There is currently no public access to Buckeye Lake in Perry County. The property would be used for a nature preserve, primitive camping and dock space for canoeing and kayaking.
• Stabilization of the former Ohio & Erie Canal along Canal Drive in Millersport at $610,000.
• Dedicated visitor center space on I-70 at $300,000. Develop available space at the two ODOT rest areas to promote local tourism and events for the greater Buckeye Lake region.
The total cost of all six projects is estimated at $13,590,900, requiring slightly more than $9 million in “leveraged funds” from ODOT, Clean Ohio, EDA, local and private funds.
Two of these projects are specifically funded in the capital appropriations bill. Village of Millersport Corridor Improvements is allocated $250,000 and the Thornport Buckeye Lake Public Access and Park is set to receive $500,000. That project is described as “acquire property to create nature preserve and areas for primitive camping, dock space and lodge and/or nature center.”
There were unconfirmed reports Wednesday that ODNR has agreed to fund construction of a jetty and pier at the beginning point of the new earthen dam at the North Shore boat ramp. Some projects will be funded out of a multi-project allocation. For example, the dedicated visitor center on I-70 might be funded out of a broader ODOT allocation. There are also reports some state funds will be able to assist the stabilization of Canal Drive.