LIBERTY — Pumpkins, music and children with painted faces filled Church Hill Park on Saturday afternoon for Liberty Township’s second fall festival, which celebrated community and the near completion of phase two of the restoration of the creek in the park.
“It’s about bringing the community together,” township administrator Devon Stanley said of the event.
Geralysse Cruz de Girard said it was a fun day and her four children were enjoying themselves.
“Winter is coming. I have to get them out of the house while I can,” Cruz said.
The festival included music, vendors, face painting, pumpkin painting, food, and a car show. There was also a touch-a-truck event where kids could honk their horns on a fire truck, and they had a chance to interact with local law enforcement.
“It’s easy to arrest people,” Liberty Police Chief Toby Meloro said. “It’s hard to make a difference in people’s lives. By bringing people together, that’s what we do.
Judith Mitchell, senior project manager and biologist with Davey Resource Group, led a short nature walk to show off the restored creek that runs through the park.
Last year’s inaugural fall festival marked the completion of the first phase of restoration, while this year’s event celebrated the completion of the second phase of construction, Stanley said.
Mitchell said the park has faced problems caused by erosion at Little Girard Creek, formerly Little Squaw Creek, particularly near the road and near what had been a baseball field.
The creek, which decades ago circled baseball diamonds, has begun to “wiggle,” Mitchell said — a natural phenomenon that occurs due to erosion.
Last year, Davey Resource Group worked with the township to stabilize the creek in the park area near the lodges. The township has since stopped mowing along the edge of the creek, allowing deep-rooted native plants to grow and reducing erosion.
Mitchell said various types of trees of different ages were also planted along the shore. Machine-readable QR codes on small panels list tree types and display web pages with more information about them.
This year, in phase two of the project, the creek near the old baseball field was relocated, rerouting it around a power line pylon, and another small creek that feeds into Little Girard Creek was relocated. caused to meander, which slows down the water, thus slowing down erosion.
Other techniques to reduce erosion in the creek included adding rocks, which trap sediment and gradually raise the creek bed to make it shallower and slower, and adding tree divots which slow also water and create habitats for creatures, like small fish, says Mitchell.
Natural flora, including trees, will be planted along this area of the shoreline over the next few months to complete phase two.
Mitchell pointed out that during the project, an area next to the road leading to the park was graded, making what will likely be a popular toboggan hill next winter.
The majority of the approximately $550,000 project was funded by two grants from the Ohio Clean Ohio Public Works Commission, with Liberty contributing 25%.
Stanley said while restoration of the creek is complete, the township plans to continue to hold a fall festival and wants to expand it each year.
Directors Greg Cizmar and Arnie Clebone were also present at the event.