Gratis breaks ground on new park


By Eddie Mowen Jr. - [email protected]



The Village of Gratis held a groundbreaking ceremony for its future Bicentennial Park on Saturday, Sept. 10.


Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

GRATIS — The Village of Gratis held a groundbreaking ceremony for its future Bicentennial Park on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Mayor Frank Davis welcomed those attending the ceremony.

“This is the first step in moving forward,” he said, thanking everyone who helped make the project a reality.

“We’re all going to watch as it develops, and keeps this village moving forward,” he noted.

“This has been a cool project to watch, and I know this property in particular has been a site of recreation in Gratis for a long time. I’m glad to see it continue being used that way,” Gratis Fire Chief Jeff King said, before he introduced former State Rep J. Todd Smith who was instrumental in helping the village attain funding in 2020.

“A lot of people think that if something’s going to change, if something’s going to happen, if something good is going to occur, it’s got to be somebody way up in Columbus who has a big title and wears fancy clothes. And he’s real smart or something,” Smith said. “That is not the way our communities are made better. It is people who live right here who have a vision for their community who want to do things better. And some people said ‘thank you’ (to me) for helping give some of the money. It wasn’t me. It was you guys that drew up the plan. All I had to do was go in and show the leadership ‘hey, here’s some great people who have a great idea to make their community better.’ And that’s what happened. That’s how change happens. It happens right here at the local level.

“This day is because of you,” Smith added. “And I hope that generations of young people will be able to enjoy this park.”

Kathy Lewis thanked everyone for attending, and recognized those helping make the project possible, including representatives from Mote & Associates, the construction company which will be working on the project, and the village’s Bicentennial Committee.

Officials hope to have the park completed by the end of the year. It will include a playground, basketball court (halfcourt) and a shelter.

Gratis Bicentennial Park is being funded by grant dollars, including funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the $100,000 announced by Smith in December 2020 as part of the two-year state construction budget.

https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_gratis2.jpgEddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_gratis3.jpgEddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

The Village of Gratis held a groundbreaking ceremony for its future Bicentennial Park on Saturday, Sept. 10.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_gratis1.jpgThe Village of Gratis held a groundbreaking ceremony for its future Bicentennial Park on Saturday, Sept. 10. Eddie Mowen Jr. | The Register-Herald

By Eddie Mowen Jr.

[email protected]

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.