Two new parks in downtown Hamilton, Rotary and Marcum, aim to draw more people into town this summer

Events, concerts part of city's promotion of core

HAMILTON, Ohio -- Two new parks aim to bring more people to downtown Hamilton this summer.

Hamilton Parks Conservancy representatives earlier this month held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Marcum Park.

The park has been in development for the past three years at the former Mercy Hospital site. It takes up one city block, bordered by Dayton, North Second and Buckeye streets as well as the Great Miami River.

"I think it'll be a lot like Cincinnati's Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine," said Hamilton Parks Conservancy Director Steve Timmer.

The RiversEdge Amphitheater at Marcum Park already has been drawing people to Hamilton's summer concert series since 2012.

"The concert series is one phase that we do so far at Marcum Park," Timmer said.

The park, which is expected to cost about $4.25 million at completion, also features a great lawn and an interactive water fountain and stream for children to play in.

Work is expected to continue wrapping up at the park over the next few months. A group of sculptures will be relocated there, and custom-made signs are expected to be installed this fall. However, the space is open to the public.

Rotary Park is a three-tiered park at the intersection of High and Second streets.

City officials are similarly encouraging residents and visitors to make use of Rotary Park. Electrical work is slated to be complete in the next couple weeks at the park. City officials also are working with Rotary Club members to design signage for it.

Situated at the intersection of High and Second streets, the three-tier park replaced an empty lot, where pedestrians sometimes ate lunch or walked their dogs in the past.

"It wasn't very attractive," said Aaron Hufford, senior analyst for the Hamilton City Manager. "It was just grass and gravel and dirt."

The top tier of the park features a seating area, a concrete cornhole set and an outdoor table tennis table. The lower two tiers are grassy areas. A concrete seat wall surrounds the entire park.

Although the Hamilton Parks Conservancy will operate and maintain Rotary, city officials were responsible for its development.

"The city manager had a vision to turn it into a space that people could really use," Hufford said.

ODW Logistics, the Hamilton Community Foundation and the Rotary Club of Hamilton contributed donations to develop the park. The total cost was about $450,000, Hufford said.

That already is starting to pay off. The park was the primary location for the city's most recent Alive After 5, a monthly event featuring food, drinks and activities in downtown Hamilton.

"I think it just comes down to activating a space that wasn't fully being utilized previously," Hufford said.

Rotary and Marcum are two of 35 parks in Hamilton. The parks cover 1,300 acres throughout the city.

The addition of the downtown parks is part of a widespread effort to revitalize the city's urban core.

"It's all part of the quality of life that the city manager and council has been pushing for in the past five or six years," Timmer said.

As work finishes up at the two new parks, Timmer's mind is on what he can do to grow the programming, especially at Marcum Park. He hopes eventually to host sports league events and even movie nights at the riverfront park.

"There's just so many different things we can do there in the future," he said.

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