Sunday, July 02, 2000

Keeping the riverfront green

Bellevue proud of its land

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BELLEVUE — This little river town is less than 1 square mile in area, with a population of about 7,000, but it may have more public parks per capita and size than any city in Northern Kentucky.

(Luis Sanchez photo)
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        If you don't count the benches and garden area at the city building, Bellevue has eight public parks.

        “We made a commitment in 1986 to improve our parks,” Mayor Tom Wiethorn said recently while overseeing work on the latest addition, the Taylor-Snodgrass River Overlook.

        The most popular of Bellevue's parks is probably Bellevue Beach Park, extending for two blocks along the Ohio River shore. The location of a former river swimming area and playground from the late 1800s, Beach Park features a natural amphitheater used for free concerts during the summer.

        Since 1986, the city has allocated a specific amount in the annual budget for park upkeep and land acquisition. The Bellevue Civic Association provides about $4,000 a year additionally for parks, to be used at the city's discretion.

        Taylor-Snodgrass River Overlook, which is still in the formative stage, is about a half-acre at the foot of Taylor Avenue with a beautiful view of the Ohio shoreline and Mount Adams. The view is accented by a large cottonwood tree just above the river.

        “Ruth Snodgrass (mother of Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass) reached an agreement with the city several years ago to lease it to us,” Mr. Wiethorn said while watching city public works director Randy Grosch and his helpers install a pair of iron benches on a newly laid concrete pad.

        “We've put about $1.5 million into our parks in the last 10 years,” the mayor said. “Every public space the city owns has been enhanced, and, where possible, to provide a view of the river. We feel we must make the most of our location on the river.”

        Bellevue's neighbor to the east, Dayton, is nearly the same size as Bellevue and also has its share of parks with five, although the Clark Street and Walnut Street parks are small and Riverside Park, with two ball fields, is below the floodwall and therefore exposed to flooding.

        Fort Thomas, above and south of Bellevue, is several times as large in land mass and has more than double the population. It does not have the number of parks Bellevue can claim, but it does have two large public areas at Tower Park and Highland Park.

        Highland Heights, another Campbell County community similar in population to Bellevue but with a larger area, has five parks of varying size.

        University of Cincinnati radiologist Dr. Paul Grunenwald and his wife, Barbara, who purchased riverfront property along Eden Avenue and plan to build a new home there, are pleased with the city's work in maintaining a variety of parks.

        “Bellevue is a sleeper,” Mrs. Grunenwald said as she and her husband surveyed the new Taylor-Snodgrass facility. “This is a wonderful city with a lot of pride. It's really great to be able to walk a few blocks from your home and be in a riverfront park. There just aren't many places like this.”


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