Plans for the future of Kenton County’s new park were presented to the fiscal court on Sept. 27.
Human Nature, a Cincinnati-based planning and design firm, presented potential options for feedback for the New Kenton County Park in Independence.
Gary Wolnitzek, the principal in charge of technical design at Human Nature, gave the third and final presentation on the 225-acre park to help develop the master plan. The land was previously home to the now-shuttered Fox Run Golf Course.
Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann clarified that the purpose of the presentation was to give county commissioners an idea of what could take place at the park. Any presented will return to the court to allow them to provide feedback and discuss funding opportunities.
The civic and recreation hub plan highlights:
- Civic gathering space and public art
- Hillside amphitheater
- Lake edge shelter and deck
- Enlarged lake
- Sledding hill
- Observation tower
- Parking lot
- Gathering space and firepit
- Skateboard park/bowl
- Zipline tower
- Ropes Course (multi-ages)
- Restroom and concessions with outdoor seating
- Inclusive water play and multi-age playgrounds (equipment and nature play)
Wolnitzek said the proposed parking lot could hold hundreds of people on the weekends. He said the parking lot’s south side also has space for food trucks to park on busy weekends or special events.
The plans also call for raising the lake level by strengthening the dam. An ADA-accessible loop goes from the recreation hub and continues around the lake, with accessible docks and fishing spots included in the site drawings.
The covered shelter plans have concessions, seating, and restrooms and are proposed to be next to an outdoor plaza with a playground and sprayground. Wolnitzek called the playground size “regionally significant” for kids of all ages, adults, and families to gather at the park.
He said if the observation tower is put in, people will be able to see downtown Cincinnati.
The nature/event hub plans include:
- Multi-purpose field
- Family shelter with a small play area
- All-persons trail
- Community gardens
- Parking lot
- Arrival plaza with public art
- Multi-purpose event center
- Outdoor classroom
- Nature/discovery playscape
Wolnitzek said the multi-purpose event center could be used for things like nature education, a community meeting space, or possibly rented by a vendor.
He said one of the three multi-purpose fields is as large as a soccer field and could be used for pick-up games and a space to host regional events. He described the two smaller fields as the size of a U8 soccer field and would be one of the few areas in the park that would be kept mowed for community use.
Mountain biking hub plans include:
- Family shelter
- Parking lot
- Restrooms, showers, and bike rinsing area
- Pump track
- Beginner skills loop with connection to mountain biking trails
A small parking lot and rentable shelter are in the plans to be near the mountain biking hub. Wolnitzek further explained that, per park staff recommendations, multiple rental shelters would be scattered throughout the park.
There will be a pump track for kids and adult bike riders to practice biking skills in a small area with mounds and dirt to ride over. A mile-long beginner skills loop is next to the pump track to prepare people to ride on the more experienced mountain biking trails in the woods.
A reunion shelter with restrooms, a play nature area, and space for cornhole and volleyball is proposed near the mountain biking hub with parking to host significantly sized family reunions.
Other features of the master plan include a dog park with a fitness loop, a lake edge shelter and deck, and a sledding hill.
New Kenton County Park is currently open to the public for “passive recreation,” like hiking, fishing, biking, wildlife observation, and walking.
The budget for the park was broken down into categories from site preparation, demolition, site utilities, roads, parking, structures, etc., totaling $19,494,535, or roughly $100,000 an acre.
Knochelmann said the region overall is under green spaced and under parked. With New Kenton County Park, the county will have 819 acres, or 2.2% total land area designated for parks.
Wolnitzek said there is still much more work and opportunity for input before anything is built. He added that the park would ideally be developed in phases once plans are finalized.