The vacant land, about 1.2 acres, is at the corner of Hensley and East avenues, said Tim Werdmann, the city’s executive director of internal services. He commended Frank and Joanne Pfirman, both Hamilton natives, for their generosity in donating the land, which consists of several parcels.
City officials consider the gift a particular blessing because the proposed park is across the street from the Boys & Girls Club of Hamilton. How quickly a park evolves will depend on money.
“We don’t have funding identified at this point for developing this into a park, but controlling the property and having a long-range plan goes a long way, I think, toward putting this in a position (to happen),” Werdmann said.
The city now plans to seek grants, donations and other forms of contributions to make the park happen.
The Pfirmans own several steel companies that employ about 110 people. Their companies include Matandy Steel on Central Avenue, which slits coils of steel; J.N. Linrose on East Avenue, adjacent to the contributed land, a company that manufactures steel studs that are used in building commercial buildings; and Lamp Metal Trusses, which makes steel roof trusses and ships them to building sites.
Frank Pfirman started Matandy, the oldest of the companies, 31 years ago in his parents’ bedroom on a card table. He semi-retired at the start of the year.
“One of the reasons to do it is Hamilton has been so good to us,” he said. “Our buildings are still there. We had some tax incentives back when we built them.”
City Director of Strategy and Information Brandon Saurber, a leader of Hamilton’s 17Strong program that aims to strengthen neighborhoods, has an aunt, Cindy Amyx, who is a sales manager for the Pfirmans. Saurber asked whether the company had plans for the land, and the company had nothing definite.
“I’d love to see it, both for the (Boys & Girls) Club and for the kids in the neighborhood, because as you know, it’s a pretty low-income area,” Frank Pfirman said. “It’ll spruce up that neighborhood.”
“It’s just land,” he said. “We’re happy to do it. We really are. And I know, it adds value for the kids, and that’s important to me.”
Hamilton Parks Conservancy Director Steve Timmer, who in recent years has overseen the upgrading and beautification of city parks, said, “I don’t have any money in the budget right now to build anything, but I’m going to start trying to raise some funds, and actually come up with a little plan.”
“I think we need a playground, a few benches for parents to sit, a bit of a grassy are to dress the area up,” Timmer said. “I think the spot’s really good.”
“I’d really like to get this project done as soon as possible, because once we get something, I like to get it finished,” Timmer said. “It’s easier to take care of a finished property than it is a messed-up property. Plus, it’ll be a nice attraction for that neighborhood.”