Big plans for Canal Winchester’s city parks

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

As the city of Canal Winchester continues to grow, so does the shopping list of amenities residents desire in a community, including the parks system.

The city formed its own list—in the form of a sweeping new park plan—that addresses present needs and future options for the city’s 11 parks, from the recently acquired McGill site to Canal Winchester’s oldest—Guiler Park and the municipal pool.

“I can remember each of them when I was a very young boy,” said Mayor Mike Ebert. “I won’t say how long ago that was, but it’s been awhile.”

Public Works Director Matt Peoples said the plan helped guide the design for McGill Park to ensure the city included features the community wanted.

For existing parks, the plan prioritizes needed improvements, including short-term actions such as updated signage, trail markers, landscaping, and site amenities already underway.

“We have heard from Canal Winchester residents over the years the need for additional amenities in our parks, such as more playground equipment, shelters, trails, picnic areas, recreation areas, leisure time areas, etc.,” said Ebert.

The genesis of the plan started last year with the formation of a Parks Planning Commission and a pair of public meetings.

“Additionally we had nearly 1,000 people participate in our parks survey, which is a huge participation rate,” said Ebert. “The process we followed was to identify the current parks we have and what each one has to offer, then use that information to identify what each park should or could use, along with the survey and public meeting ideas. While we were pretty sure what the residents of Canal Winchester were looking for in our parks, we still needed to confirm our thoughts, and while our ideas were amazingly similar, the residents did have a few ideas we had not considered.”

According to Ebert, the plan established three levels of completion—short, mid- and long-term. Short term is completion within two years, mid-term is completion within five years and long-term is completion five years and beyond.

Ebert said the plan will impact future park development by guiding consistency from one park to the next in regard to items such as trail markers, park bench design and trash container style.

“Canal Winchester is an active community with a lot of walkers and runners, no matter what the weather,” said Ebert. “Having new trails for that will provide a much safer environment than walking or running on the streets as some do today. Parks also provide a place of recreation whether organized or leisure. We currently do not have much park space for either at this time. The redesign of some parks and the build out of McGill Park will change that.”

Highlights of the plan include overall recommendations such as updating amenities and structures; creating more paths, access points and a paddling route to Walnut Creek Park; a rock-climbing wall; and a desire to make parks more multi-use.

Priorities indicated need and support for a multi-purpose recreation complex. Additional amenities, including dog parks, community gardens, restrooms, ice skating, play structures and a splash pad were also considered when adding or expanding current parks.

In Westchester Park, recommendations included expanding parking and play structures, basketball courts, a permanent restroom and security lighting. Suggestions for Roger Hanners Park were expanded paved parking, an enhanced skate park, a permanent restroom and an additional shade pavilion.

A permanent restroom was on the wish list for many city parks. The estimated average cost of installing one is approximately $200,000.

“We are looking forward to the upgrades to all of our parks and especially excited to develop McGill Park over the next few years, which is, by far, going to be our largest park and with some breathtaking views of Walnut Creek,” said Ebert.

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