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Small Covington Parks Get Big Grant for Redevelopment

Two small Covington parks just got a big boost as residents mobilize to improve it.

Annie Hargraves Park and Basil Lewis Park, in Covington's Old Seminary Square neighborhood, is the recipient of a $100,000 grant and $50,000 in matching funds from the R.C. Durr Foundation. Make It Possible, a resident-led initiative to redevelop the two parks, announced the funds this week.

The residents mobilized last year and presented their ideas at Covington City Hall previously.

“We knew that if we wanted to make the parks safer and have a more useable community greenspace, we would need to band together as a neighborhood to make it happen,” said Suzanne Anderson, Make it Possible committee member, in a news release.

Paige Ellerman, Make It Possible Committee member, said that “the generous grant from the R.C. Durr Foundation for Make It Possible has taken the project from an idea to a reality.” Ellerman added that “while there is much more fundraising needed to realize the lofty scope of the project’s concept plan, this initial support from RC Durr gets us close to implementing phase one and affirms that residents can work together to make anything possible in our communities.”

The two parks that Make It Possible seeks to redevelop are adjacent to railroad tracks, lack safe fencing and lighting, include limited activities, and do not have basic amenities, such as water fountains, the Make It Possible committee members said in their description of the parks. Area residents have coordinated the parks’ redevelopment design and are seeking private funding to effectuate the design plan because the two parks are not included in the City of Covington’s Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces (PROS) Plan, which is a road map for the city’s park improvements for the next six to twenty years.   

Make It Possible partnered with Human Nature Inc., an environmental planning and landscape design firm in Cincinnati, whose portfolio includes projects at Washington Park and Eden Park, to develop a revitalization plan for the parks. After several public meetings, as well as input and approval from the City of Covington, Make It Possible finalized the parks’ innovative redevelopment plan, which includes educational, artistic, physical activity, community gathering, and safety components designed with residents and visitors of all ages in mind. The R.C. Durr Foundation grant has been allocated to Phase 1 of the project, termed Make It Safe, which focuses predominantly on safety aspects of the project.

The Old Seminary Square Neighborhood Association offered a strong endorsement of the project, which has been discussed at a number of neighborhood meetings. Both Ellerman and Anderson stressed that the organization and the parks plans are “resident-led initiatives.”

“This is an incredible accomplishment by Paige and Suzanne and will help further establish Old Seminary Square as one of the most attractive neighborhoods in the city,” said Greg Paeth, president of the Old Seminary Square Neighborhood Association. “When I first heard about these plans a couple of years ago, I have to admit that I was skeptical about whether anything would ever get off the drawing board. I’m glad that I was proven wrong.”

Other phases of the proposed concept plan are:

Make it Healthy, which includes upgrades to the existing basketball court, updated playground equipment, installation of drinking fountains and a splash area.

Make it Beautiful, which includes landscaping, tree removal, alley and sidewalk paving, and cleanup of years of collected debris along the railroad tracks.

Make it Civic, which includes the creation of an urban walking trail, streetscape improvements, replacement of grills and seating in Basil Lewis Park

The Annie Hargraves Park was named to honor a beloved Covington schoolteacher and the Basil Lewis Park recognizes the accomplishments of a community leader and well-known employee of the City of Covington.

-Staff report

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