Remaking neighborhood parks one community at a time

Peaselburg Park was once known as Peaselburg Little People’s Playground, as it was designed for very young children.

 

And while the park is still a great place for little people to play and burn off some energy, the neighborhood’s residents thought it would be good to make it a better place for bigger kids to hang out too.

 

So the neighborhood playground on Howell Street became the latest to be redeveloped by the city of Covington, as part of a long-term plan to redevelop small community parks and playgrounds that, in some cases, have been neglected for years.

 

It is the second park to be finished in an ongoing, overlapping schedule that aims to have one park under construction each year while another is under design and a third is before community residents for their thoughts and ideas.

 

“We worked with a group of citizens to prioritize our parks improvement plan,” says Ken Smith, Covington’s neighborhood services director. “We looked at each park and put them in order of priority.”

Covington is home to about 990 acres of public parks and open space at 40 sites ranging in size from tiny playgrounds to the 700-plus-acre Devou Park. The city operates and maintains 30 sites totaling almost 200 acres spread throughout its 19 neighborhoods. Others are owned by public and private organizations, as well as nonprofit entities and schools.

Read more about Covington's parks:

Spending time -- and money -- in Devou Park

Marking a milestone in an urban trail system, the Licking River Greenway and Trails Project

 

In 2015, the city hired planners to do a detailed inventory of its parks and playgrounds. An advisory group of about a dozen Covington residents used that inventory to evaluate the potential for improving those sites using criteria like the age of the parks, strength of existing partnerships within the neighborhood and opportunities to address criminal activity. The parks were then scored and ranked.

 

The final layout and design of the new Peaselburg Park includes new fitness equipment, soccer goals, shaded picnic tables, a water fountain, and, for those big kids – a basketball court.

The makeover was largely a product of the neighborhood's vision.

“We met with residents and engaged the community,” Smith says. “They said they wanted some things in the park that would be attractive to older kids and adults.”

“There would have been nothing for those kids at the previous incarnation of that park,” he says.

The first park to get the makeover treatment was Father Hanses Park in the neighborhood of Lewisburg. Around 2000, city works had dismantled the swings, benches and small shelter in the tiny park, as it had become a spot for drug use and other illegal activity.

In 2017, city workers were back at the park, installing a new jungle gym, seesaw, slide and benches and it was rechristened with a ribbon cutting.

Next in line for a redo is Barb Cook Park in Latonia.

And next up for planning is Goebel Park. Covington officials want residents to give feedback on how to improve Goebel by taking this brief survey.

 

"We can't stress to our residents enough how much weight we give to their ideas and opinions," says parks and recreation manager Rosie Santos. "This is their park system."

 

 

 

 

 

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist, Cincinnati native and father of three. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.
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