Coke Oven Commission
Bill Merdich, President
Karen Yoho, Vice President
History and Development
The Leetonia Beehive Coke Oven Commission was formed in 2009 as an advisory board to oversee the development of the historic Leetonia Beehive Coke Oven Park. The Coke Oven Commission has made generous strides in the development of the park and hopes to continue those successes into the future.
With the assistance of the AmeriCorps VISTA program and the Appalachian Coal Country Team, the Coke Oven Commission was able to fully develop a master plan in the Summer of 2012. This plan was developed by Summer Volunteer Marin Braco. It addresses the restoration of the ovens, development of educational materials, and creation of pedestrian access routes throughout the 35 acre park. The plan calls for removal of invasive wildlife and connection to the Greenway Bicycle Trail, which runs from Washingtonville to Lisbon.
The progress continued in the Fall of 2012 when AmeriCorps OSM/VISTA Justin Charles Hite began working on the project. Successes from this year have included developing partnerships with the Columbiana County Parks District, the Columbiana County Chamber of Commerce, and the Leetonia/Washingtonville Area Chamber of Commerce; developing a viable annual fundraiser; and writing a survey of the history of Leetonia. 2013 brought at least one new source of grant funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation. This grant from the Transportation Alternatives Program for $185,667 will allow the Village of Leetonia to construct trailhead facilities and trails to connect and integrate the Coke Oven Park and the Greenway Bicycle Trail. The Village has obtained additional funding from CDBG in the amount of $45,685 and a private donation from Access Midstream in the amount of $14,200. The Village is seeking additional funding to continue to develop the park according to Ms. Braco's master plan.
The Coke Oven Commission is currently seeking to build volunteer and community support to help continue their goal and fulfill their mission. The Coke Oven Commission is currently seeking donations to fund grants and to continue with the AmeriCorps/VISTA program that has brought us so much success. Coke Oven Commission meetings are on an as needed basis and take place at Village Hall. The meetings are open to the public and community support is encouraged.