Great Parks unveils master plan for park at historic Gamble estate

After a years-long community planning process, Great Parks and Westwood residents have completed the master plan for a new park on the site of the former Gamble estate.

The historic Werk Road property will become the agency’s 22nd park in Hamilton County.

Plans call for the creation of an accessible green space accessible in Cincinnati’s largest neighborhood. Agreed-to potential park upgrades include a trail network, boardwalks, natural playscapes, community gathering spaces and a mix of educational areas.

Photo courtesy: Great Parks

The goal is to create an urban resource for nature-based recreation and education, according to Todd Palmeter, Great Parks’ CEO.

“We are grateful to the community for engaging with us to design what will be an incredible neighborhood park that will enhance the quality of life for residents,” Palmeter added. “These discussions led to a blueprint for the establishment of a treasured community asset. This is a master plan that truly reflects the outdoor space needed for Westwood.”

Planting seeds for Westwood growth

Great Parks acquired the 22-acre property in 2021 as a result of a Clean Ohio Conservation grant that covered 75% of the appraised value of the land. Remaining funding came through a 25% match from the previous owner, the Greenacres Foundation.

The organization opened the area to the public in April 2022 to let visitors enjoy scenic walks along a maintained pathway covered by a beautiful tree canopy with a walnut grove. However, it lacked several important guest amenities, like bathroom facilities and dedicated parking.

Photo courtesy: Great Parks

To make the park more accessible, Great Parks worked with a number of neighborhood organizations to identify community wants and needs. The broad-reaching public engagement strategy involved the likes of Westwood Historical Society, Westwood Works, Westwood Grows, Westwood School, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission and Westwood Community Urban Development Corporation, or WestCURC.

Great Parks also worked directly with residents. It received input from more than 2,000 people, about 50 of them children between the ages of 5 and 12. Palmeter stressed a desire to hear from Westwood’s “generation of tomorrow” and what they want from their park.

A Greater Cincinnati Foundation grant covered the cost of the outreach process.

Greg Hand – president of WestCURC – said his organization took part in every Great Parks advisory committee meeting for the park.

In October, Great Parks approved a concept master plan based on the ideas from the community. The plan received final approval this week.

“It’s entirely consistent with the priorities of the Westwood neighborhood,” Hand said of the master plan. “The plan will make the green space an even greater asset to the neighborhood and we believe it will draw more businesses to the area.”

New park won’t grow overnight

Palmeter described the master plan as establishing a long-range vision for the future Westwood park. As such, improvements will occur in four phases over several years.

Enhancing pedestrian access to the park and trails is the top priority. Residents also voiced a desire to add a variety of safety features, per Great Parks. Initial work also will include installing utilities and repairing some of the architectural assets already on the land.

Design work for the first phase will begin later this year.

Photo courtesy: Great Parks

With other phases, Great Parks will look to make ease-of-use enhancements, such as improved vehicular access and all-season restrooms. They’ll also add, over time, various displays, a greenhouse pavilion, indoor interpretive space for use during school field trips and a wetland overlook.

One of the signature projects involves breathing new life into a Gamble-era carriage house by remodeling it into a space for small gatherings and community events.

Completion of the entire master plan may take up to seven years, at a total cost of more than $18 million, according to Great Parks. Right now, the focus is identifying funding for the Phase 1.

“This is an exciting moment for Westwood and the entire region as we continue moving forward on developing the newest Great Park into an urban oasis for everyone,” said Amy Roell, the agency’s director of programming.

Great Parks’ master plan for Westwood park

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