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Let's meet at the park, y'all: Florence plans green space -- with bronze statues -- at mall

Estimated completion of project is summer 2017
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Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-11 07:00:18-04

FLORENCE, Ky. -- By next summer, there will be a haven of green space in the middle of the retail ocean known as Mall Road in Florence.

A new park, slightly bigger than a half acre in size, will offer greenery, meandering paths, a fountain, bike racks and seating and will set the scene for shoppers and workers to take a break and enjoy a contemplative space.

Located at Mall Road and Heights Boulevard, the park will fill in land that’s been vacant for decades next to the Florence Center. It may seem like an odd place to put a park, but it goes along with the city’s plan to make Mall Road a destination for visitors to the city.

Besides offering a break space, the park will honor police, firefighters and public service personnel with three life-size bronze statues, said Eric Hall, public services coordinator for the city. Eventually, engraved bricks will be used to honor employees.

It also will have an environmental impact, with a rain garden that will ultimately put clean, plant-filtered water into the sewer lines, he said.

And it’s going to give a more public home to some city events, such as a Christmas tree lighting starting in 2017.

“It may not be a giant tree at that point,” said Rick Lunnemann, city coordinator.

Even Mayor Diane Whalen is excited about that one. Apparently few people get to see the city’s tree that’s usually located off the beaten path at city hall. The new tree, which will be a permanent live spruce, will be easily seen from Mall Road.

Lunnemann said the overall design will coordinate with the stone and brick signage already in use along Mall Road.

“Shoppers like an attractive, warm environment,” he said. "Basically, they’re looking for walkability and some ambiance."

Bids for the park’s construction are set to go out in September. Bids for the bronze statues will open in October.

The land was donated by Tom Green, owner of the Florence Center that sits next door to the property. Green, of Cincinnati, didn’t want to talk about the donation, but city officials see it as a plus for Mall Road.

Whalen noted that the city’s work to improve Mall Road with green space and sidewalks helped to attract Costco and Menard’s.