Miami planning students working to link Lindenwald, MU’s Hamilton campus

A Miami University senior planning class has recommended several ways to better link the university’s Hamilton campus with the business district in Hamilton’s Lindenwald neighborhood. The students suggested more bikeways, including along Williams Avenue, more signs and especially better sidewalks between the two areas.

Proponents of the city’s most populous neighborhood, who believe the business district has potential to make a return to more prosperous days, hope the report produced by students working under Professor David Prytherch will prompt city improvements in coming years to better connect the areas, which are close, but feel farther apart than they are.

Miami’s Hamilton campus has about 3,000 students. Those students are potential shoppers in Lindenwald and other city neighborhoods.

“Improving the connectivity between Miami University Hamilton and Lindenwald’s Pleasant Avenue business district will serve as the initial spark for revitalizing the Lindenwald neighborhood,” the students wrote.

Another goal people of the neighborhood had was to make Lindenwald’s business district attractive enough that people from Fairfield and northern Cincinnati suburbs will visit.

A likely hurdle to the improvements happening quickly: Where will Hamilton find the money?

“One of the things I love about students is that they dream really big, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything that they’re recommending will come to pass,” said Liz Hayden, the city’s director of planning. But the report, which likely will be integrated into the city’s Plan Hamilton blueprint of ideas to improve the city, creates a path forward that can be implemented over time, she noted.

Among the highlights:

  • Williams Avenue is a key to linking the two areas, but it has narrow sidewalks that are severely buckling in places that make it uninviting for people to walk on, and potentially dangerous for senior citizens and others to talk on. In one innovative concept, the students recommended eliminating on-street parking along Williams so sidewalks could be widened and bike paths could be added. Residents would be given incentives to park behind their homes or in parking lots on empty properties along the street. Improved street-lighting along Williams also would make people feel safer on the street where some of the buildings are unattractive.
  • Lindenwald needs more businesses, and the students were hopeful about the city’s recent purchases of several commercial buildings along Pleasant Avenue that officials hope to return to useful life.
  • Bicycling/walking paths would be a significant improvement, the students wrote. They recommended better such connections to the nearby Officer Bob Gentry Park and the bikeway along the Great Miami River that passes campus.
  • The city’s Officer Bob Gentry Park could be converted into “a new, major destination for all Hamilton residents,” they wrote. Among other things, an area could be added where food trucks can park and provide their wares. Also, they recommended adding more pickleball courts, because they are in high demand there.
  • The Butler County Regional Transit Authority’s Bus Route 3 does an effective job of meeting public transit needs, but an additional stop should be added at the former Benninghofen Mill at 2350 Pleasant Ave., they suggested.
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“At least now there’s a plan in place,” said Frank Downie, a leader of Lindenwald’s neighborhood organization, PROTOCOL (People Reaching Out To Others; Celebrate Our Lindenwald). He liked several of the concepts, including creating off-street parking along Williams.

“Everything seems to be going our way for a change,” he said.

“I think they laid out some excellent plans,” Downie said. “They wowed me.”

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