It’s about to be a lot easier to have fun on the Great Miami River in Middletown, and here’s how

Ground has been broken on the River Center facility along the Great Miami River Recreation Trail in downtown Middletown.

Turnbull Walhert Construction broke ground on the $1.4 million project on Jan. 9, according to Kelly Barkley, spokesperson for MetroParks of Butler County.

The project, located at 120 Carmody Blvd., was originally slated to begin in 2015 but was delayed due in part to several issues with land titles along the river. She said a grand opening for the River Center is being planned for later this summer.

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Barkley said the River Center has been designed to attract new users to the Great Miami River Trail and enhance the experience of those individuals who currently use the trail for recreational purposes. She said the structure will serve trail users by providing 41 parking spaces for more convenient biking and walking access to the trail itself.

The facility will also include public restrooms and drinking fountains for the convenience of those who use the trail. The City of Middletown and the Miami Conservancy District are partnering with MetroParks on this project.

In addition, Barkley said the facility will also include a meeting space that can be reserved and accommodate up to 50 people, a catering kitchen, outdoor terrace area with picnic tables, and a programming office and ranger office to support regular programming of the River Center, the AK Pavilion, and the Bicentennial Commons, which are also managed by MetroParks.

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Barkley said funding for the project was made possible through a $1 million State Capital Improvement Grant that was awarded in 2014 by the Ohio General Assembly based on the project’s merit to make a positive impact on the regional economy by attracting out of county visitors who would use the trail and spend outside dollars in Butler County.

Barkley said the project will also contribute to the revitalization efforts underway in downtown Middletown adjacent to the River Center project. She said the balance of the project’s funding will be supported by MetroParks Levy dollars.

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