The new River Center is located along the Great Miami River and Carmody Boulevard in Middletown.

Middletown may become major bike destination with River Center’s summer opening

An Aug. 25 opening is planned for the $1.4 million River Center, a recreational facility on Carmody Boulevard that will include an outdoor patio, meeting rooms and public restrooms.

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“Making the River Center a reality has been a collaborative effort between the MetroParks, the city of Middletown and the Miami Conservancy District,” said Kelly Barkley, spokeswoman for MetroParks of Butler County. “The funding for this project was made possible thanks to a $1 million State Capital Improvement Project grant for the project’s ability to be a positive economic driver to the region. MetroParks also contributed local funding to the project for site costs associated with the project.”

The new River Center in Middletown will feature a number of amenities and programming for residents and cyclists using the Great Miami River Recreational Trail.
Photo: NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The River Center, which is now taking shape on a knoll overlooking the Great Miami River complements the existing AK Pavilion and Bicentennial Commons, making it a more attractive venue for events by providing nearby parking and restrooms, according to Matt Latham, MetroParks park planner/project manager.

The facility will also make Middletown a major bike destination once the future planned trail connection between Middletown and Franklin is completed in 2021, he said.

The trail will enable cyclists to connect to nearly 80 continuous miles of bike trail.

Construction continues on the new River Center along the Great Miami River and Carmody Boulevard in Middletown.
Photo: NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Mary Huttlinger, executive director of the Middletown Visitors Bureau said the new River Center “presents an amazing opportunity for Middletown to showcase the many benefits of the river as an economic asset and its potential contribution to the downtown revitalization efforts.”

“This presents a boon to the local economy in that Middletown can offer visitors a compelling reason to spend an entire weekend or, even a long weekend,” she said.

The River Center has 3,006 square feet of educational, programming and office space and is being constructed in such a way to enable another 3,000 square-foot expansion in the future, according to Latham.

Other amenities of the facility include:

  • Outdoor patios with views of the Great Miami River
  • 40 parking spaces for River Center and Great Miami River Trail users
  • Public restrooms open to Great Miami River Trail users
  • A reservable meeting room for more than 50 people
  • A catering kitchen
  • An atrium
  • A park ranger station

The new River Center project is moving forward toward an August grand opening.
Photo: NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

City Manager Doug Adkins said the River Center will tie together the bike path, a “renewed interest in riverfront amenities” and growth of the city’s downtown that includes new restaurants and three concert series.

“The River Center and the quality of life programming that will be held at Bicentennial Commons offer more great reasons to come downtown and rediscover Middletown,” Adkins said.

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HOW TO GO: River Center grand opening

WHAT: Grand opening celebration of the new River Center featuring the Butler Philharmonic.

WHEN: Aug. 25. The free concert will be begin at noon.

WHERE: AK Pavilion, 100 S. Carmody Boulevard

MORE: Opera star Jessica Rivera, a Middletown resident, will sing the national anthem to kick off the festivities. Following the concert, the River Center will host an open house with special programming until 4 p.m.

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