NORTH CANTON  Residents who have been watching the houses get demolished along the Zimber Ditch that borders parts of Price Park in North Canton have seen some recent reclamation of the land where those houses were once located. Stark Parks purchased 13 houses in the areas of Glenwood, Linwood, Lucille and Glendale as part of a hazardous flood mitigation project.

All but two have been demolished. Two remaining houses are located on Linwood. The project has been funded through the Federal and State Emergency Management Agency with the help of State Representative Kirk Schuring and included the city of North Canton, Stark County Commissioners and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, with Stark Parks overseeing the project.

"The funding allowed for the removal of the houses from the floodplain but didn’t allow for the restoration of the land along the ditch for improved floodplain function," said Sarah Buell, project manager. "Deville Development approached the Park District about mitigation of over 1,500 cubic yards of fill. They are filling in an area for a new building and they are required to remove twice as much from the floodplain area as they fill. After the developer proposed a design that would lower the floodplain in the North Canton area by 3,200 cubic yards, we agreed to the excavation and restoration."

Robert Brown, director of operations at Deville Development, said the project they are filling in is at 5440 Whipple Avenue in the end of the plaza where Stein Mart and Earth Fare are located.

"We tore down a bank building and plan to build a 5,000 square feet, two-tenant building in the area which is in the floodplain," Brown said. "We are filling the area to get the building above the floodplain."

Buell said the requirement of the two-to-one ratio of removing twice the amount of fill to that of being removed helps balance out the floodplain.

"We want more pulled out of the floodplain than someone is putting in so that the floodplain is balanced," Buell said. "Deville is paying for the excavation and is responsible for disposing of the dirt being pulled out. We’ll be leaving the areas where the homes were demolished as green space."

She said since the houses that have been torn down or will be torn down are not contiguous, it’s difficult to make the area available for a park. Stark Parks will mow and maintain the areas.

"We’ve held a number of meetings with residents in the area and have gotten a lot of feedback along the way. Many of the residents are sad to see the homes get demolished, but they understand the problem of the flooding and they see this as part of the solution and a step in the right direction," Buell said.