The area around the Bicentennial Commons in downtown Middletown has been the focus of some maintenance and landscaping projects in recent weeks.
The park, which also includes the AK Pavilion is along the Great Miami River Recreation Trail, a 75-mile bike trail that stretches from Hamilton to Piqua. Last May, the city of Middletown transferred the park and pavilion to MetroParks of Butler County as well as releasing its conditional use easement from the Miami Conservancy District.
At the time of the transfer, Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins told City Council that MetroParks agreed to keep the park open to the public as well as provide maintenance to all existing items in Bicentennial Commons for a minimum of 20 years.
Earlier this week, crews from Luther Landscaping were busy installing drainage tiles in front of the pavilion’s amphitheater in the grass viewing area that is often wet. In addition, Luther Landscaping did various landscape improvements such as removing all of the damaged trees from the islands. In addition the landscaping company did other work in 2016 such as planting ornamental trees, shade trees, daylillies, and shrubs; and putting in top soils, fertilizer and mulch. MetroParks paid the company $14,670 for the landscaping work and $2,625 for the drainage work.
Also in 2016, MetroParks developed a spectator area on the Carmody Avenue side of the amphitheater stage. The project included removing damaged trees and roots and other work for $3,725.
MetroParks is planning nearly $23,000 of work for the riverfront park in 2017 that mostly includes landscaping projects.
MetroParks is also planning to build a $1.2 million River Center that will serve as a hub for those who walk, run and bike along the regional recreational/bike trail that is managed by MetroParks. When that is completed, trail users will be able to access businesses in downtown Middletown. The planned facility will include public restrooms in addition to meeting and educational spaces. It will also serve as home base for the MetroParks volunteer Trail Ambassador Program and as a substation for MetroParks public safety staff.
Kelly Barkley, senior manager of community relations, said final design work is being completed on the $1.2 million River Center and financing options are currently being pursued. The project received a $1 million State Capital Improvement Project grant in February 2015.
“The way that the State Capital Budget projects work is that the entity completing the project must pay for the work, then submit documentation to be reimbursed for the expenses by the state,” she said in an email response. “Additionally, the state has not yet released the funds for the reimbursement. The project is moving forward as expected at this point.”