LIBERTY — Pumpkins, music and children with painted faces filled Church Hill Park Saturday afternoon for Liberty Township’s second Fall Festival, which celebrated the community and the near completion of phase two of the park’s creek restoration.
“It’s about bringing the community together,” Township Trustee 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 honk a truck event where kids could honk the horn of a fire truck and had the opportunity to interact with local police.
“It is 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’re doing.”
Judith Mitchell, Senior Project Manager and Biologist for 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 construction on the second phase, Stanley said.
Mitchell said the park had been dealing with problems caused by erosion at Little Girard Creek, formerly Little Squaw Creek, especially near the road and near what had been a baseball field.
The creek, which decades ago surrounded baseball fields, began to “shake,” Mitchell said: a natural phenomenon that occurs due to erosion.
Davey Resource Group worked last year with the city to stabilize the creek in the park area near the pavilions. The municipality has since stopped mowing the grass along the edge of the creek, allowing deep-rooted native plants to grow and help reduce erosion.
Mitchell said various types of trees of varying ages were also planted along the bank. Machine-readable QR codes on small signs list tree types and open web pages with more information about them.
This year, in phase two of the project, the creek was moved near the old baseball field, diverting it around a power line tower, and another small creek was meandered into Little Girard Creek, slowing down the water, thus hindering erosion.
Other techniques to reduce erosion in the stream included the addition of rocks, which capture sediment and gradually raise the stream bed to make it shallower and slower, and the addition of tree root balls, which also slow down the water and create habitats. for creatures, like minnows, Mitchell said.
Natural flora, including trees, will be planted along that bank area in the coming months to complete phase two.
Mitchell noted that an off-road area leading to the park was graded during the project, which will likely be a popular sledding hill come winter.
Most of the roughly $550,000 project was funded through two Clean Ohio grants from the Ohio Public Works Commission, with Liberty contributing 25 percent.
Stanley said that while the restoration of the creek is finished, the city plans to continue holding a fall festival in the future and wants to expand it each year.
Trustees Greg Cizmar and Arnie Clebone were also at the event.