FREEDOM – In response to erosion issues along Little Squaw Creek in Churchill Park that have created safety concerns, township officials have approved the second phase of the project for this summer. Work began in 2021.
Little Squaw Creek runs through Liberty, coming from under State Road 193 near Giant Eagle in Churchill Park, then to Girard.
Township administrator Arnie Clebone said the western section, which is downstream, was completed in 2021 and the eastern section, which is upstream, is underway this summer.
“This project was carried out to preserve the integrity of the stream. Over the years, the park road began to erode the creek, undermining it and creating a safety issue,” he said. Officials were concerned that erosion on the creek side could cause the road to collapse.
Rocks were placed in parts of the creek to improve flow and prevent erosion, Clebone said.
Officials said the first phase would cost $250,000 and the second would cost nearly $300,000. Matching funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission’s Clean Ohio grant covered most of the project costs for both phases.
Clebone said Liberty was to contribute 25% of the cost.
He said township administrators were made aware of the erosion problem in the park last year by resident Jeff Smith, who worked for CT Consultants.
Judith Mitchell, senior project manager and biologist at Davey Resource Group in Kent, said the company had carried out the environmental plans and monitoring work for the project.
The project contractor was Gary Moderalli Excavating, who moved the rocks.
Mitchell said the flow has changed over the years, “winding” through the park. This project, she says, will help stabilize it for a long time.
She said creek erosion was a concern due to a power line base and nearby ball diamonds.
“There were different sections of the creek that were eroding and causing a problem. Some sections were messy,” Mitchell, indicating that efforts have been made to protect not only the public using the park, but also the wildlife.
“Erosion causes a lot of water quality degradation. This affects fish and frogs which find it difficult to live in the creek when mud from storm water enters it,” she says.
Clebone said protecting water quality is also important.
Mitchell said the main part of the construction is nearing completion and grass should be planted in the fall.
Photos of the creek before the work was completed showed where the sides had eroded and where the ball pits were falling. Some sections were wider at 6-7 feet and deeper at 5 feet.
Work has also been done on the small creeks that flow into Little Squaw Creek. Mitchell said a lot of water got stuck in a floodplain and quickly poured into the creek after heavy rains.
Mitchell said the stream is like a bowl and a bowl can only hold so much. She said a normal thunderstorm fills the bowl, but a heavy thunderstorm causes it to overflow.
Excess earth from the project has been placed in a separate area of the park, creating a slope on a hill that will allow for sledding. The remaining stones were placed on the sides of the stream, creating a natural buffer. Benches have been placed on the sides of the stream as well as explanatory panels on the plant life.