Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Riverfront site set to become Newport park

Cost remains to be determined

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — A stretch of unattractive but well-located riverfront below the Newport Aquarium will become a city park, but how expansive and expensive the park will be is undecided.

[photo] This site below the Newport Aquarium and Newport on the Levee is to be converted into a city park.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        One thing is certain: work on the park planned for the former site of Barleycorn's floating restaurant won't start this year.

        City commissioners were introduced Monday to a site concept by planners from Brandstetter & Carroll of Lexington. The proposed park, with a plaza area, stage, concrete walkways along the river, and an expanded and rebuilt flood gate entry from Columbia Street, would cost about $3 million.

        “Something needs to be done to the property, we know that,” Commissioner Beth Fennell said. “The surface there now is very uneven, with broken asphalt, and it's difficult for seniors and handicapped persons to get around at the festivals. I think some of the ideas in the concept are good.”

        All of the city's festivals — Arts and Music, Italianfest, Great Inland Seafood Festival and the Chili Cook-off and Car Show, were held at the riverfront site in 2001, and all are planned for the same location this year.

        “If we are going to make changes at the site, we have a rather narrow window of time,” city manager Phil Ciafardini said. “We have to make some decisions this year on what we want to do and how much we want to pay.”

        Commissioner Ken Rechtin said he was concerned about the cost of the initial park concept, and said he would be more comfortable with an approach that would gradually convert the site to a park and bring upgrades on in phases.

        He said he was not pleased with the amount of concrete shown in the concept drawing, comparing it to the Serpentine Wall directly across the Ohio River in Cincinnati.

        “I like the soft edge of our riverfront, and I'd like to see more of that,” he said. “That looks like a great deal of concrete. I think we could do other things. I'd like to see some different ideas.”

        Pat Hoagland, of Brandstetter & Carroll, said the company would meet with city officials to consider ideas and work a new concept for the park.

        “This is strictly a concept, and we can do whatever the city wants,” he said. “We may need to go back and start all over.”

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