Great Parks Awarded State Funding to Acquire and Preserve Westwood Site in Partnership With Greenacres Foundation
Great Parks of Hamilton County announces the execution of a contract with the Greenacres Foundation to acquire a 22-acre site located on Werk Road in Westwood. Formerly the homesite of the James N. Gamble family, the property is primarily open greenspace that Great Parks will cultivate into a future park and urban ecology center, connecting the community to nature, wellness and conservation-based education resources.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to directly serve a thriving and diverse community within the city of Cincinnati,” says Great Parks CEO Todd Palmeter. “This urban preserve aligns with our master plan priority to expand park access to all users by providing nature-based resources in areas that are currently underserved.”
Cardinal Land Conservancy, a regional land trust, collaborated with Great Parks to develop an innovative proposal for connecting Westwood and surrounding neighborhoods to this natural asset. Great Parks has successfully applied for and been awarded funding through the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund with the local match being provided in-kind by the Greenacres Foundation. This will allow the property to be acquired at no cost to the park district. To ensure the long-term success of the property, philanthropic partner Great Parks Forever is developing an ongoing support strategy through grants, private donors and conservation-based organizations.
”Greenacres looked at several concepts for the future of this property and recognized that supporting Great Parks to make this property a permanent park would be consistent with the wishes of our Founder, Louis Nippert, who was a Park Commissioner,” says Greenacres president, Carter Randolph. “We hope that the Westwood Community supports the Great Parks plan and engages with Great Parks as they develop this park and urban ecology center.“
Once the acquisition is complete, expected in late summer 2021, Great Parks will engage Westwood residents, community organizations, and local schools to develop a final plan for the site. The acquisition would support the current Westwood strategic plan goals related to infrastructure, facilities and public spaces, safety and services, schools and historic preservation. It also supports Great Parks’ mission, vision and Comprehensive Master Plan priorities focused on programming and events for diverse audiences, building ecological resiliency and sustainability, and providing more trail access for communities.
Great Parks intends to protect the urban greenspace as well as open up the potential for an urban ecology center to serve residents of Westwood and nearby communities and schools. The site provides significant ecological value in connecting a patchwork of habitats from the City of Cincinnati’s Mt. Airy Forest, to greenspace along the Mill Creek, south to Great Parks’ Embshoff Woods near the Ohio River.
The property has multiple points of access and excellent walkability, being a short distance from Gamble-Nippert YMCA, Westwood Library and five schools such as Westwood Elementary and Dater Montessori, where Great Parks currently presents nature education programming. It is also conveniently located on several Metro bus routes, providing a public transportation option for residents.
“Overall, community-based park and recreation opportunities provide economic value, health and environmental benefits and social importance. The presence of parks increases property values, provides residents a space to enjoy the outdoors, and improves the overall quality of life in a community. This new opportunity continues our commitment to increase the number of Hamilton County residents who have access to a Great Park,” says Bill Burwinkel, Great Parks Board of Park Commissioners.
Great Parks has been protecting greenspace and providing recreational and educational opportunities to Hamilton County residents for over 90 years. As the largest landowner in the county, Great Parks encompasses more the 17,700 acres, with 83% of that in its natural state. Great Parks is the third largest park district in the state with 17 parks, four nature preserves, 78 miles of trails, and much more.
Great Parks of Hamilton County’s mission is to preserve and protect natural resources and to provide outdoor education and recreation in order to enhance the quality of life for present and future generations. For additional information, visit greatparks.org or call 513-521-7275. Great Parks Forever, the philanthropic partner of Great Parks of Hamilton County, translates an early conservation promise into everyday experiences and lasting legacies. For additional information, please visit greatparksforever.org.
Founded in 1988, Greenacres Foundation was Louis and Louise Nippert’s gift to the community. Combining their love of the land and farming with their appreciation of Cincinnati’s classical arts. Greenacres provides educational programming to over 30,000 local students annually while preserving and generatively farming over 1,200 acres in southwest Ohio. Please visit www.green-acres.org to learn more about the many facets of Greenacres.
Cardinal Land Conservancy’s mission is to preserve natural habitats, waterways, agricultural lands and open space we love in Southwest Ohio by working with individuals, families, and communities.