The 22-acre site, located on Werk Road in Westwood, is composed mainly of greenspace and will house a future urban ecology center, a community garden and greenhouse, and a winding nature trail. The hope is to connect the community with nature through conservation-based educational resources.
Great Parks, which is the largest landowner in the county, has 17 parks, 78 miles of trails and covers 17,700 acres of land; 83% of that land is in its natural state.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to directly serve a thriving and diverse community within the city of Cincinnati,” says Great Parks CEO Todd Palmeter in a release. “This urban preserve aligns with our master plan priority to expand park access to all users by providing nature-based resources in areas that are currently underserved.”
Great Parks collaborated with a regional land trust, Cardinal Land Conservancy, in developing a proposal that illustrated the intended influences of the future park on the Westwood community.
The mission of Cardinal Land Conservancy is to protect and preserve waterways, natural habitats and open greenspaces in Southwest Ohio. The Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation Fund awarded funding and matched Great Parks to Greenacres Foundation.
Since being founded in 1988, Greenacres educates 30,000 students annually while working to preserve over 1,200 acres of southwest Ohio.
The partnership between Greenacres and Great Parks will allow the greenspace to be obtained through no cost to the park district. Great Parks Forever, the philanthropic partner, is in the process of developing ongoing support strategies via private donors, conservation-based organizations and grants to ensure the park’s viability.
Handing over the symbolic key to the park is expected to take place in late summer 2021. The next step for Great Parks is to get in touch with Westwood residents, organizations and schools to create a final plan that serves everybody.
“We hope that the Westwood Community supports the Great Parks plan and engages with Great Parks as they develop this park and urban ecology center,” says Greenacres president Carter Randolph.
The property is a short distance from the Westwood Library, Gamble-Nippert YMCA, five schools and several bus stops. The park will provide a network of habitats connecting Mt. Airy Forest, the Mill Creek and Great Parks’ Embshoff Woods.
“Overall, community-based park and recreation opportunities provide economic value, health and environmental benefits and social importance. The presence of parks increases property values, provides residents a space to enjoy the outdoors, and improves the overall quality of life in a community,” says Bill Burwinkel of Great Parks Board of Park Commissioners. “This new opportunity continues our commitment to increase the number of Hamilton County residents who have access to a Great Park.”
For more info, visit greatparks.org.