Monday, March 19, 2012

Planning begins for Silverton Park upgrade

A 12-week project to create a comprehensive plan for upgrades to Silverton Park launched Saturday afternoon at the Deer Park Silverton Joint Fire District building.

The 0.63-acre park has become a point of emphasis for the village, as it serves as a major gateway into "Silverton City Central", the main commercial corridors along Montgomery and Plainville roads.

Residents and village officials heard a presentation from CS Land Studio principal Carolina Segura, who has been hired to design the plan along with the University of Cincinnati Economics Center.

The goal of the planning exercise was to gauge residents' current experiences with the park, and to solicit ideas for its future by studying its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

"Each piece of land is unique," Segura said. "It has its own history. By understanding that, we can create a park that's unique for Silverton."

Assets of the park were identified the historic Silverton Train Station Museum, the war memorial, and its high-traffic location.

But the park faces significant challenges as well. Respondents said that the park lacks adequate signage, is difficult to access by foot, lacks restrooms and adequate parking, cannot easily handle large events, and suffers from poor maintenance, landscaping, and lighting. The park is also bisected by railroad tracks, leaving the northwest portion lightly used.

Silverton Mayor John Smith said he wants to change everything in the park outside of the train station – including the war memorial.

"I was ashamed of it," he said. "And it represents our city. We need to make the memorial look better than it is. I'm looking forward to a completely new design."

A consensus was reached that the redesigned park should contain a water feature. Other ideas included replacement of the war memorial; improved pedestrian access from the Montgomery Road/Highland Avenue intersection; new trees and landscaping; better pathways, signage and wayfinding; and the advertising of hours and programming at the museum.

A draft plan is expected to be presented to the Silverton Block Watch Association in May. Residents will also be given the opportunity to comment.

Planning for the project is being paid for by a $5,000 grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.