Hamilton in 2017: The best stories in development, schools and events

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Hamilton's Marcum Park Opens

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

This was a year of improvement for Hamilton, most notably along the city’s Main and High streets corridor. Here are some of the city’s highlights during the year:

Marcum Park opens as Hamilton’s new ‘backyard’

About 100 people — Hamilton officials, Joe and Sarah Marcum and their family, dignitaries and the general public — assembled in May to dedicate the new Marcum Park, which officials believe will be Hamilton’s new “backyard.” Mayor Pat Moeller at the event called the park “an intersection of recreation, music, and economic development.”

The park is surrounded by the Great Miami River to the west; Dayton Street and the Courtyard by Marriott to the south; North Second Street to the east; and Buckeye Street on the north. It encompasses the RiversEdge Amphitheater along the river, and the amphitheater now officially is called “RiversEdge Amphitheater at Marcum Park.”

ExploreMORE: Crowd watches Hamilton dedicate new Marcum Park

New park spurs other downtown development

Spurred partly by Marcum Park, a new residential-and-retail project called The Marcum was built right next door to both the new park and the Courtyard by Marriott, with rapid construction progress happening currently. Loveland-based Tano Bistro plans to open a second location at The Marcum. Also opening a location will be The Casual Pint.

Meanwhile, numerous stores have opened along Main Street. And the Oford-based Quarter Barrel brewpub plans to open a location at the southwest corner of B and Main streets during the first half of January.

ExploreRELATED: Officials break ground for new apartment complex in Hamilton

Spooky Nook sports complex continues progress

Another project that is expected to boost the fortunes of High and Main streets is the proposed Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill, a mega-indoor sports complex like the original, which is located near Lancaster, Pa.

The project, which is expected to lure athletes and their families from within a 3.5-hour drive, now is expected to break ground by fall of 2018. There have been numerous meetings about the project, with Spooky Nook officials in town at least every couple of weeks meeting with teams, sports leagues and others to establish relationships.

ExploreRELATED: Excitement lives at Spooky Nook complex in Pennsylvania

New school program proposed to boost student performance

Glenn Holmes, who at the time was a fellow with the city of Hamilton, gave presentations to Hamilton City Council and the city’s public schools’ officials about a program that could make the city’s students more competitive in the global economy. He proposed the city work with the program called “Say Yes to Education,” which helps students gain access to two-year and four-year educations, as a way to improve their skills so they can gain higher-paying jobs. Schools Superintendent Tony Orr in May said the city was still collecting information about the program.

City officials have said they believe performance of the city’s schools are holding back economic development and attraction of families to the city.

ExploreRELATED: Hamilton has education needs that a national non-profit can help with, city employee says

Orr noted that Miami University Hamilton has landed a $1.3 million “Upward Bound” grant ($257,000 per year) to help Hamilton’s schools. The program will create various programs to prepare low-income students for college and their careers. It is expected to help 300 high-school students, the district has said.

ExploreRELATED: Miami Hamilton lands $1.3 million grant to aid Hamilton schools

Planning for the near future

The year also was marked by launching of several studies intended to chart Hamilton’s future. Those include the Plan Hamilton strategic plan for the entire city, visioning for what the Ohio 4 business corridor should become over future years, and a study of how the city’s Great Miami River shorelines can be developed.

ExploreRELATED: Future of Hamilton’s riverfront development is charted

Positioning to be a hub for water and sewage issues

A Hamilton-led water technology accelerator program called Pipeline H2O convened its first class during early 2017 with companies from across the country to help link them with regional utilities, universities, state and federal environmental regulators and others in efforts to help solve global water and sewage issues, with hopes this region and Hamilton can become a hub for such technologies.

A second class will be chosen soon. Meanwhile, the city-owned Hamilton Mill, where Pipeline H2O is housed, has been helping other, non-water-tech companies, grow.

ExploreRELATED: Water innovators take next step in making ideas reality

Traffic improvements

After more than 100 years of discussion, the South Hamilton Crossing project, which will link Ohio 4 with the area of Miami University’s Hamilton campus, is underway. It will make it far easier to get across town and open more land in the campus area for development.

The project, expected to be completed in early 2018, should also make it easier to get from Hamilton’s West Side to Ohio 4. The city also this year improved the congested intersection of High Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

ExploreRELATED: South Hamilton Crossing construction ahead of schedule

Sad events

Following the line-of-duty death of Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman, a jury in November found two men guilty of arson and murder in connection with his death.

Meanwhile, longtime Hamilton advocate Jim Blount, a driving force behind South Hamilton Crossing, passed away, shortly after the highway segment was named after him.

The look of the town

Meanwhile, progress continued on the appearance of Hamilton parks, and a new splash pad was added in Hamilton’s Second Ward.

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