Plans unveiled for 3 Monroe parks, including former Americana property

Monroe City Council heard a presentation on a draft master plan for Baker and Community Parks as well as the Monroe Bicentennial Commons, formerly known as Americana/LeSourdsville Lake amusement park.

These individual park master plans were the next step following the completion of the Monroe Parks and Recreation Master Plan in April 2016.

Patrick Hoagland of Brandstetter Carroll, Inc., presented the draft master plans which was developed over the past several months. The plans were based on community input sessions, surveys and discussions with the steering committee and the city park and recreation board.

The plans for each park outlines the amenities and envisioned uses.

The cost estimates for each park is $6.09 million to redevelop Community Park; $1.29 million to develop Baker Park; and $9.71 million to redevelop Monroe Bicentennial Commons.

Hoagland said the Monroe Bicentennial Commons is envisioned to have nine separate areas starting with an entrance plaza that will use a 1940s art deco design for the gateway into the park. He said the building would be reminiscent of the amusement park’s buildings. Hoagland also said the proposal is planning to utilize as many of the former amusement park buildings and other items. One possibility is using some old ride cars as planters or other climbing amenities, he said.

Hoagland said community preferences gleaned from input sessions and surveys were built into the nine areas which include:

  • an active play area with an interactive fountain, playground, nature play area and picnic shelters.
  • a bicycle-focused area as the Great Miami River Recreation Trail will go through the park in addition to other bike trails and amenities.
  • a riverfront area with swings, a canoe/kayak launch, and an lookout plaza overlooking the Great Miami River.
  • a nature restoration area with trails, picnic areas and educational features.
  • a recreation area that would include an amphitheater and large lawn for events.
  • reconstructing a portion of the former LeSourdsville Lake with a 7.5-acre pond with bridges to an island as a gathering point. There would also be rental canoes and paddleboats.
  • a nature habitat/wetland area with an outdoor education center and bird sanctuary.
  • pavilion area that would reuse several large steel pavilions for large gatherings and a game plaza.

Proposed Community Park Improvements: building a sprayground near the Main Street entry area; a new playground; outdoor fitness equipment; expanding the current parking lot and building a new parking lot; developing two additional ball fields as part of a reconfiguration that would include four fields in a cloverleaf design with a concessions/restroom facility in the center; and a 3/4-mile perimeter trail with a connections to the Bridal Creek neighborhood. The improvements could help the park become a site for tournaments.

Proposed Baker Park Improvements: The undeveloped park off Cincinnati-Dayton Road would include community gardens; a series of nature trails; a dog park; restoring a portion of the park to a combination of meadow and woodland areas; a nature playground using organic materials with climbing features; a disc golf course; an entrance road and parking lot; and a couple of shelters, with one having restroom facilities.

He said the number of phases needed to develop the park depends on funding and could be spread over 10 t0 20 years.

“It’s delightful and expensive,” said Councilwoman Christina McElfresh who was stunned by “sticker shock” when she heard the estimated costs. “It would be beneficial to Monroe. I think it’s something that can happen.”

The estimated costs also prompted Councilwoman Anna Hale to say, “I see a park levy in the future.”

Vice Mayor Dan Clark reminded council “that residents have spoken loud and clear” about the need to improve the city’s parks.

Council will review the drafts before making any decisions and said the development of the parks will be done in phases. A portion of the 0.5-percent earned income tax increase approved last fall is earmarked for infrastructure and parks improvements which will help to pay for these projects.

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