Fairfield’s Harbin Park loop trail construction begins

The construction of the Harbin Park loop trail, a 1.1-mile trail that will encircle the city's largest park, started on June 23. It should take about three weeks to finish, said parks Director Tiphanie Mays. Contributed
The construction of the Harbin Park loop trail, a 1.1-mile trail that will encircle the city's largest park, started on June 23. It should take about three weeks to finish, said parks Director Tiphanie Mays. Contributed

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Construction on the new walking/bike trail that will encircle Harbin Park, which is part of a multi-faceted Phase 1 to makeover the city’s largest park, began last week.

Phase 1 of the three-phase renovation of Harbin Park is starting with $700,000 of capital funds allocated in 2020 via Senate Bill 310. The trail system is part of the phase that will include a rebuilt overlook picnic shelter, replacement of the wooden shelters, a new year-round restroom facility, and an improved playground area, as well as a new 1.1-mile loop trail around the park.

The new loop trail will link with the existing trail that connects the picnic shelters of the upper lot to the neighborhood on Gray Road and West Augusta Boulevard. This trail was identified in the parks master plan in 2014, said Parks and Recreation Director Tiphanie Mays.

“The loop trail was No. 1 on the list,” she said.

According to the 2014 plan, trail development “is at the forefront of community needs,” and at that time, connectivity rated lowest among satisfaction rankings among residents. Also, trails “were very important” to residents, more so than open spaces, programs and river access.

Construction that started last week should take about three weeks to complete.

“What it does, it really establishes that connectivity to the park for all the residential areas that connect to the park. It definitely was an essential piece the park was missing to allow people to get in there and use the park as a public space.”

The project is part of Phase 1 of the Harbin Park renovation. Ohio allocated $150,000 to Fairfield in last year’s capital budget, as well as $550,000 to complete the overlook renovations. Phase 1 project is expected to cost $1.5 million and wrap up by June 2022.

Phase 1 could finish ahead of that June 2022 deadline as Mays said it could take six to eight months to complete, mainly because “the infrastructure is in place.”

Architectural and engineering for Phase 2 could begin around June 2022, and plans for that phase include constructing larger picnic shelters in the southeast corner of the park, year-round restrooms, and improvements to the pond in that area.

Some 18 months after the start of Phase 2, work on Phase 3 begins, which includes improvements at the entrance and the adjacent field.

In all, the three phases will cost around $4.5 to $5 million.

Harbin Park, which is more than 200 acres of open land and wooded areas, has been an amenity within the city since the mid-1970s, first named Fairfield Municipal Park. It was eventually renamed for former Fairfield mayor William Harbin, and the park has been largely unchanged since it was developed.