Fairfield looks to expand its largest park property

The city of Fairfield is looking to purchase 7 acres of property behind Village Green. Fairfield is applying for an OPWC grant to purchase the property, which abuts Harbin Park and is expected to be maintained as green space.
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The city of Fairfield is looking to purchase 7 acres of property behind Village Green. Fairfield is applying for an OPWC grant to purchase the property, which abuts Harbin Park and is expected to be maintained as green space.

Harbin Park is already the city’s largest public recreational destination, and the city aims to add to its 200-plus-acre size.

Fairfield City Council will apply for a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission to fund a portion of the purchase of seven acres at 5333 Pleasant Ave. The property, known as the Wheeler property, is south of Wessel Drive and behind the city’s Village Green. It’s primarily a wooded area that abuts Harbin Parks’ northern-most wooded area.

The city is asking the state to fund 75 percent of the purchase through the Clean Ohio and the balance of the property would be “donated by the property owner,” according to a Fairfield staff report from City Engineer Ben Mann.

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The Clean Ohio project total cost is estimated to be $220,000, and that includes survey and acquisition expenses, and the purchase cost. Mann said the final application price is based on an updated appraisal, but the has agreed to a purchase price of $200,000 based on the appraised value.

Mann said the property will be “a useful addition to the existing city-owned property.” Harbin Park is home to several amenities, including an 18-hole disc golf course, a mountain biking trail and the Muskopf Preserve. Harbin is also undergoing a multi-year renovation which includes improving the disc golf course, redesigning the park’s overlook, replacing antiquated picnic shelters, improving the perimeter trail, and constructing a new upper parking lot, new playground and entertainment center.

City Manager Mark Wendling said if the grant is awarded, the seven-acre parcel will be maintained as green space.

“Perhaps at some point it will accommodate a trail that connects the Pleasant Avenue neighborhoods with the Village Green, though there are no immediate plans to do so,” he said.

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Connectivity had been a theme of residents and stakeholders during the development of the city’s comprehensive plan, known as “Fairfield Forward.” Sidewalk and trail connectivity were repeatedly mentioned a every community engagement event, Wendling said.

“Residents stated they want pedestrian connections to activity centers such as parks and the town center, between neighborhoods, and to the Great Miami River Trail,” he said.

City Council OK’d to contract the Cincinnati engineering firm MKSK, and its sub-consultant, LJB, to design a Citywide Active Transportation Plan.

The city’s comprehensive plan can be viewed by the public at an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Fairfield Community Arts Center, 411 Wessel Drive.