By Linda Dillman
The city of Canal Winchester is developing a park master plan in order to manage and improve its current inventory of park land as well as with developing the 67-acre McGill Park on the eastside of town,
Typical municipal park and recreation entities across the nation have one park per 2,266 residents with 9.6 acres of park land per 1,000 residents. In Canal Winchester, there are 718 residents per park with 34.5 acres of park land per 1,000 residents.
City Development Director Lucas Haire introduced a 70-plus page Parks Master Plan, up for a first reading, during Canal Winchester City Council’s April 2 meeting. The document was created by OHM Advisors in collaboration with community stakeholders and a working group that included commission, council, city, and recreation district members.
“The long process started back in July of last year to update the parks,” Haire said. “We had over 1,019 responses to a survey.”
Haire said members of the study group visited all 12 city parks, noting current amenities. Information compiled by OHM also identified needs, applied implication strategies and estimated costs for proposed improvements.
“There are short, mid- and long term priorities,” said Haire. “We want to take care of short term priorities first, which are often maintenance issues.”
Highlights of the plan include 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 to make parks more multi-use.
Priorities indicated a 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 to 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 include 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. OHM estimated the average cost of installing one at $200,000.
Canal Winchester’s park inventory also includes sites many respondents were unaware of, such as Howe Pond with catch and release largemouth bass in the Howe Industrial Park and the 28-acre Busey Road Park. The two-acre Pfeifer Park, ringed by homes in a housing development and with no apparent public access, was also unfamiliar to many involved in the study.
According to the report, through the series of working group meetings, stakeholder interviews, public meetings and the survey, the planning team ensured that recommendations would be both informed and supported by park users.
“It’s a great road map to get us going in the right direction,” said Councilman Patrick Lynch. “It is well done. Very well put together.”
Haire said input on the document, available for view in its entirety on the city’s website, is still welcome until the plan is finalized at its third reading before council.