Cincinnati vice mayor, University of Cincinnati president promote Burnet Woods park improvements

CINCINNATI – Right now it is more like a springtime daydream, but if city and University of Cincinnati officials have their way, Burnet Woods in Clifton could see a substantial update sooner rather than later.

A spokesperson for Vice-Mayor David Mann’s office said he and Mayor John Cranley would like to see updates to the park that include beautification, more entrances and safer student access to the 90-acre wooded oasis that borders UC's campus.

Mann is a long time resident of the Clifton neighborhood.

President Santa Ono seconded the idea, one that began circulating in February with talks of the pedestrian walkway connecting UC’s main campus to Burnet. Ono went so far as to propose a city-university partnership to find a way to turn the idea into an actual project.

Cincinnati Parks superintendent of planning, design & facilities Steve Schuckman, said he was happy when he heard reports of discussion between Ono and Cranley. The parks department created a Parks Centennial Master Plan approved by city council in 2007 and has since pushed for funding for the project.

"Like the Washington Park project that created that neighborhood's revitalization, these things tend to come from some sort of spark of public discussion that leads to partnerships such as the one we had with 3CDC," Schuckman said. "We look forward to a potential partnership."

The plan, Schuckman added, "recognizes that the park is already a great public space and one with important natural resources that must be preserved, while making some improvements."

The non-profit Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation and Cincinnati Parks revitalized Washington Park in 2012 with an underground parking garage, northern open grass area, water sculptures, and play area for nearly $40 million.

The 2007 plan for Burnet Woods was created with neighborhood input and includes more green space, fewer roads, pedestrian and bike friendly entrances, and a restructuring of the Clifton Avenue side of the park that could include a two-tier restaurant.

"It includes better access to the park (from Clifton) and to open up views along Clifton Avenue," Schuckman said.

Over the years, lack of funding limited the parks department plans for the Uptown park. The Trail Center and Burnet's iconic band stand were refurbished over the past few years.

Burnet Woods is one of Cincinnati’s oldest parks. Originally 170 acres, it was purchased by the city in 1872.

At the time it was described as “thickly wooded with fine forest trees” in an 1875 book called Illustrated Cincinnati: A Pictorial Handbook of the Queen City by Daniel J. Kenny.

Today, Burnet Woods is bordered by Clifton and University Heights on three sides and UC to the south. The park also contains an artificial lake constructed in 1875, a bandstand constructed in 1911, the Wolff Planetarium, a Trailside Nature Center, and the Richard Monument constructed in 1972.

Abby Moran, a Clifton resident and coordinator with the Clifton Child Study Group, said she hopes the proposed upgrades happen sooner rather than later, especially as renovations for a Clifton branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County begin near Ludlow Ave.

"There will be just a natural flow from UC to the library," Moran said. "The park needs improved foot traffic."

Moran also said her group hopes to see improvements to playground facilities within the park.

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