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Ohio park looks for funds for $3M expansion project

Voice of America park in southwest Ohio has big plans, but needs big money

WEST CHESTER, Ohio — There are big plans for a 435-acre park in a northern Cincinnati suburb. But they require big money.

The Voice of America MetroPark in West Chester Township has begun work on a $3 million first phase of expansion that will bring 22 natural-turf multipurpose fields.

Park officials expect them to be drawing cards for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and cricket tournaments. There are also plans for tournament-ready baseball and softball fields.

The Butler County Visitors Bureau has put in $1 million, with the rest from the park system that has taxpayer funding from a 2010 levy. Millions more are needed to add fields and a fieldhouse with concession stand and bathrooms, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Park officials also envision an amphitheater. They want to use artificial turf for some fields to handle heavy tournament use. Turf estimates are $5 million. The tournaments also will require a new parking lot.

Any park development grants are scarce, so private support will be needed.

“It’s largely driven by our ability to interest partners and sponsors in this,” said Jon Granville, MetroParks executive director. “Our plans are not to go back to our local taxpayers and ask them for more money every time we come up with a good idea.”

Selling naming rights for the sport complex and amphitheater has been discussed.

It’s estimated that when up and running and attracting tournament players and their families to the area hotels, restaurants, and retailers, within five years the complex would have a $26 million annual economic impact.

“It will bring more people into West Chester. I’m sure of that, and the economy needs that,” said Barb Wykoff, a resident using a walking trail around the fishing lake recently.

Local teams will be able to reserve fields during the week, while tournaments will be played on weekends.

The park is named for the Voice of America relay station here that sent shortwave radio programming around the globe starting in World War II.

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