Whitehall seeks ideas for parks

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 Messenger photo by Dianne Garrett

Whitehall residents, from left, Georgia Bays, Sylvia Knoblauch and Irma Duffy, attend the town meeting at Community Park Jan. 24 to offer input on what they would like to see in the city’s parks.  On the right is Councilman Leo Knoblauch.  They took maps of all parks and templates to make their own design change suggestions.

Whitehall’s parks became a field of dreams for residents who attended a Jan. 24 meeting to suggest improvements that included an ice rink, more walking trails and more parking.

Residents, along with City Council members Jackie Thompson and Leo Knoblauch, Development Director Dan Lorek and Parks and Recreation  Director Terry Gee, attended the gathering at Community Park.

Deborah Edsall and Annie Craven, of Edsall and Associates, stressed the importance of having a master plan.  Edsall explained that having a tight city budget is further reason to have a plan to make better use of available money and to make it is easier to obtain grant funding.

So far the consultants have interviewed council representatives, city administrators, school personnel, churches, children and businesses.  

Participants at the meeting were given templates and maps of all the parks for an interactive exercise in which they moved, replaced and added features to re-design the parks.  

For Bishop Park, residents envisioned an enclosed kiddy corral for small children, more parking on the north end and on the south end closest to the amphitheater. They would also like the city to tear down the south end restrooms, and build new ones in the middle of the park and by the amphitheater. They would also like more paths for walking.

 

At Norton Park residents would like to have a walking path around the perimeter, and play equipment. They suggested replacing  concrete surfaces with grass, enclosing the entire park with a fence and planting more trees.

Lamby Lane should have more parking, better playground equipment, and better restrooms, participants commented.

Community Park could have an ice rink in the flood plain area in the winter, a nature preserve, and a bridge across Big Walnut to connect to Columbus’ proposed trail, residents recommended. They also suggested extending the trail, removing the basketball courts and tennis courts, providing more parking, and moving fireworks from Bishop Park.

They thought eliminating the concrete cabanas could deter vagrants. More lighting around the Buckeye Building, hosting a cultural festival, and installing exercise stations throughout the park for adults and youth were additional suggestions.

It was also suggested to make some of the streets one way, so there could be a car lane and a lane for a trail.

The study does not include the armory on Country Club Drive, since the city has not finalized an agreement to obtain the property.

Whitehall has two mini-parks, Norton Field with 1.69 acres and Robinwood Park with 0.69 acres.  Lamby Lane is classified as a neighborhood park, and has 3.71 acres.

Community Park has 102.89 acres, and Bishop Memorial Park 33.12 acres. They  both fall into the community parks/sports complex category.  

Edsall stressed the importance of planning with the school district, since they are considering  the possibility of building new schools in the future, and some of the schools abut park lands.  

Lamby Lane, where t-ball is played, is on land owned by the school district.    She said that kids really like Community Park, because there is more to do there.  She noted that the driving range is unique in the central Ohio region, which is a positive.

 

No master designs have been drafted to date, and a final report will wait until the consultants hear what the residents and city administrators desire.

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