Monday, July 9, 2012

'Everybody's' Washington Park reopens in Over-the-Rhine

After nearly two years of construction, Over-the-Rhine's Washington Park reopened to the public following a ribbon-cutting Friday morning.

The $48 million project by the Cincinnati Park Board and Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), expanded the park from six acres to eight, refurbished the historic bandstand, and added a 450-space underground parking garage.

Within the park itself, a children's playground, a dog park, an interactive water feature, a civic lawn, an event plaza, a performance stage, and concession building and restrooms were added.

"In the future when you purchase a dictionary in the City of Cincinnati – and let's say this dictionary had phrases in it – if you turn to a page and look for the phrase 'we can't', you won't find it," said City Manager Milton Dohoney. "Because in Cincinnati, we get it done."

The park is expected to have significant effects outside of its borders as well, building upon work being undertaken by 3CDC and creating new opportunities for other developers.

"As you look around the park at development potential, you have to have the long-term view," Dohoney said. "There will be more investments that surround the park."

Cathy Crain of the Board of Park Commissioners went one step further, calling the new park "the heart of economic vibrancy" in the City.

"Washington Park is an anchor is what is fast becoming recognized as the 'spine of the region,'" she said. "From Washington Park to Piatt Park to Fountain Square, to Lytle to Smale Riverfront, and a three-mile stretch of parks along the riverfront…these are parks that are an economic engine driving this region."

'We have progress to make'

"We're not dissuaded by minor obstacles, we're not dissuaded by major obstacles," said Mayor Mark Mallory. "We have progress to make, and we've made big progress. We are building a City for the future that can be enjoyed today. And Washington Park exemplifies that very progress."

But many don't see it as progress. Some neighborhood residents have voiced their displeasure with the loss of the park's basketball courts, swimming pool, and some of its old growth trees, feeling that community input on the park's design was ignored. Advocates for the City's homeless population believe that people who used to use the park will no longer be welcome.

"Washington Park is everybody's park," Dohoney said. "It is for those who live in the neighborhood, and those that live in other neighborhoods. Everyone is encouraged to take advantage of the new park and enjoy all of its offerings."

3CDC's daily programming, beginning July 11, will include live music, movies, and family-focused activities.

Major upcoming events include a concert featuring Over the Rhine and Jake Speed & the Freddies on July 22; a rare joint performance by Cincinnati Pops, Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Opera, and Cincinnati Ballet on August 3; and the Over-the-Rhine Community Festival on August 4.

Photos 1-4: Entrance sign...historic bandstand...children's playground...historic busts in dog park area.

5. Children's playground.


7. Commemorative boulder, replica cannon, and OTR Flags.

8. View northward toward interactive water feature, civic lawn, and performance stage.

9. Roof of historic bandstand.

10. Commemorative boulder, 1861.




14. Parking garage entry and public access from 14th and Race streets.


16. Rookwood Pottery tiles on entryway columns.

Previous reading on BC:
Spots remain for free OTR FLAGS painting event this Saturday (5/16/12)
Washington Park reconstruction to begin with careful excavation (8/16/10)
Washington Park rezoning allows parking garage (8/9/10)
Washington Park receives $5M for garage, outreach reception planned (7/27/10)
Cincinnati committee approves $14M package for Washington Park (6/28/10)