Great Parks nabs $6.15M for 2 efforts

Great Parks of Hamilton County has secured $6 million in federal transportation funds to build the Glenwood Gardens to Winton Woods trail.

The expansion of the regional trail network will connect the two parks and serve as a vital corridor to serve the surrounding communities for enhanced access to outdoor space.

Great Parks also recently announced that it received a $150,000 grant for the new Music Garden at Highfield Discovery Garden, an interactive space that will inspire future generations of musicians, gardeners and nature lovers.

Music Garden at Highfield Discovery Garden

“The Music Garden at Highfield Discovery Garden will allow children and users of all ages to understand connections between nature and music while creating their own performances encouraged by the nature around them,” said Todd Palmeter, CEO of Great Parks. “The (federal transportation) grant further highlights Great Parks’ leadership in regional trail development which was the public’s top priority in the development of the Great Parks Comprehensive Master Plan. The Master Plan also calls for building more partnerships with trail-building entities and increasing the level of service for trails, both keys to this project.”

Todd Palmeter

The transportation grant is distributed by the OKI Regional Council of Governments through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program.

The 3.6-mile trail will extend west from the West Fork Mill Creek Greenway Trail through Glenwood Gardens and join with the Harbor Loop Trail in Winton Woods. Together, these trails will provide more than 9 miles of continuous shared-use paths and vehicle-free travel, away from local roads. Construction of this segment, which is Phase 2 of the trail, will begin in 2025.

The Glenwood Gardens to Winton Woods Trail will pass through Forest Park, Greenhills, Woodlawn, Springfield Township and a wooded area of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission Glenview Golf Course. The 12-foot-wide paved trail will be accessible and suitable for walkers, runners, bicyclists and users of all abilities.

“This path builds on a broader vision to link major greenspaces in the Mill Creek Valley with a regional trail network,” said Wade Johnston, director of Tri-State Trails. “Over time, we hope to connect this corridor to Cincinnati’s CROWN trail network to the south, the Great Miami River Trail to the north, and Sharon Woods to the east. We’re thankful that Great Parks is taking the lead on implementing this critical segment.”

Great Parks had previously secured funding for Phase 1 of the project, which will begin construction in 2023. Phase 1 includes construction of a bus stop connection near the entrance to Glenwood Gardens at the intersection of Glendale Milford Road and Springfield Pike, a new sidewalk from the bus stop to the existing West Fork Mill Creek Greenway Trail, and a new signalized crosswalk across Glendale Milford Road.

The music garden will be located within Glenwood Gardens and will include large outdoor instruments and an accessible stage that can be used for self-directed and sensory play. The grant is provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources NatureWorks grant program and ensures that the $300,000 project is funded with 70 percent of the cost covered by grants and donations.

The music garden’s stage will be surrounded by five music stations and will include a collection of high-quality outdoor percussive musical instruments, such as double-sided chimes and a tung drum. Special plantings to be chosen for the area will build upon the music garden theme, possibly through the names of the plants, the sound they make, or through visual appearances that may evoke musical inspiration. The garden will also include an accessible path in the shape of a treble clef. Children and guests will be encouraged to be hands-on with the instruments as they move around the treble clef path or enjoy a program by a Great Parks Interpreter, artist or local performer.

This project fulfills public requests for investment in new play and education experiences that were made through development of the Great Parks Comprehensive Master Plan. Specifically, the Master Plan calls for integrating nature, programming and facilities to provide unique offerings in every park that instill lasting memories in all users.

Children’s groups, garden clubs, local artists and the surrounding community will be encouraged to take advantage of the space through formal programs and informal visits. Great Parks programs will lead to sensory experiences where people of all ages and abilities, including the hearing and sight impaired, can connect with nature and each other in a highly inclusive way. Plans include designated program times for a sensory-friendly experience. Great Parks also plans to develop programs for the garden to align with the curricular needs of local schools.

Besides the Ohio Department of Natural Resources NatureWorks program, other funders were the Dorothy B. Francis Charitable Foundation, Highfield Foundation and Robert Gould Foundation. The project is currently scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022.

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