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City Reviews Park Year, Looks at 2016 Plan
December 7, 2015

Most items on Chillicothe's 2015 parks project list were completed this year, and the city is looking toward a busy 2016. Norris reviewed the park system's year and identified the 2016 project plan during Chillicothe's City Council meeting last week. 

Simpson Park: Parks Director Josh Norris said the addition of the Chilli Bay Water Park open flume water slide, which was scheduled for this year, has yet to be completed. Bids for the slide came in higher than anticipated earlier this year so the city rebid the project. Bids are due back December 30. It is hoped that the slide still will be included in the city's current fiscal year, which ends March 31, and be ready for use when the water park opens. Simpson Park 2015 projects included playground mulch, tennis court fence repair, tree plantings and stump removal. Other projects slated for Simpson Park include a baseball/softball score table, a park kiosk (similar to the visitors kiosk on the west side of the Livingston County Courthouse), and bench replacement. The city is also considering construction of an amphitheater. Looking ahead, Simpson Park's project list includes a new playground. Two sites are being considered: one at the existing playground near the Girl Scout House and the one just south of Chilli Bay Water Park. Some council members and park board members have discussed a desire to not have a playground near the main entrance, citing safety reasons because of its close proximity to the highway; however, the existing park is expected to remain in place at least through next year. The city is looking at possibly themed playgrounds.

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley / December 7, 2015

Chillicothe's parks department recently finished planting 20 trees within its system - 15 trees in Simpson Park and 5 in the Tina Mapel Memorial Dog Park. Varieties included maple trees, tulip trees, oak trees and pear trees. The trees were around 3 inches in diameter and measured 12 to 15 feet tall. They were purchased from Rosemary Hill Tree Farm in Trenton. "The intent with the trees is to provide the parks with color in the spring and fall," said Parks Director Josh Norris. In all, 27 trees have been planted in the parks during the last two years.

Mills Park saw the opening of Tina Mapel Memorial Dog Park. Also slated for this year was a playground renovation for Mills Park. The new play structure and swing set was delivered last week and installation is expected in the coming weeks, Norris said.

Danner Park: Improvements to Danner Park's walking trails were slated for this year; however, the project was bumped because of unexpected lighting repairs needed to the Green Field at Danner Park. Danner Park saw the addition of baseball/softball score tables, playground mulch, and green field lighting. Several projects are slated for Danner Park, including a new shelter house by the playground, backstop improvements to the green field, repair to the concession/restroom roof, repairs to the tennis court, improvements to the walking trail, resurfacing of the baseball field, a park kiosk, tree plantings, basketball court marking, relocating the green field scoreboard, and lighting at the red field.

Mulch was added also to playgrounds at Clay Street Park and Shaffer Park. At Clay Street Park, the city anticipates making repairs to the walking bridge. The bridge was shut down earlier this year because of safety reasons. At Shaffer Park, 2016 projects include improvements to the grandstand.

Parks - Long-Range Plan
June 3, 2015 
Catherine Stortz Ripley (CT)

A long-range plan for Chillicothe's parks has been developed to help guide future maintenance and development of the city's parks system. Josh Norris, parks and recreation director, along with Park Board members, developed a plan that extends 10 years for the city's six parks: Simpson, Danner, Shaffer, Gravesville, Clay Street and Mills. The plan outlines specific projects for each park, estimated completion dates and approximate costs.

Norris was unaware of any other long-range plan that had already existed for the parks. The plan's project list was generated through several sources, including public surveys as well as from comments made to members of the board. The plan is a fluid document and projects have already been adjusted since it was drafted. "It's a guideline for us to follow to plan for the future of our parks, but some things will change," Norris said.

The parks department received approximately 300 completed surveys that had been distributed at Danner Park, Simpson Park, Chilli Bay Water Park, and during a Mudcats baseball game at Shaffer Park. Participants were asked several questions, including how they would rate the parks, the playgrounds, walking trails and bathrooms, and suggest what they'd like to see added. "We got a lot of data and input from that," Norris said.

In drafting the plan, Norris said projects were divided into needs and wants. The needs were mostly maintenance-related issues with an emphasis put on doing projects correctly the first time to prevent future problems. Among projects considered for Simpson Park is the relocation of the east playground near the Washington Street entrance to avoid flooding issues. The playground sits low compared to nearby areas and, during heavy rains, water pools in areas and runs through the playground. New mulch was added about a month ago in an effort to keep the playground drier and a couple more loads of mulch will soon be added. However, problems still occur because of water runoff. "Anytime we get a lot of rain like we have had this month, we have a water issue," Norris said. Relocating the playground to another area within the park is slated for 2017-18; however, it is possible that project could take place sooner.

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