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Photos: Tour Covington's New Willow Run Rain Garden & Park

The City of Covington cut the ribbon Tuesday on the new Willow Run Rain Garden and Interpretive Park, located on the south side of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd near the I-71/75 exit ramp and James Simpson Way.

Through a partnership with Sanitation District 1 and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), the City used the construction of the park as part of its effort to mitigate the adverse effects to historic properties during the widening of MLK Blvd. 

Mitigation funds were made available through KYTC as were funds from SD1 for a water drainage control mechanism.

The new park that stretches multiple blocks includes a series of measures that will reduce rainwater runoff into the sewer system and five panels that tell the history of the Twelfth Street corridor in addition to explaining the new drainage control mechanisms.

The ribbon cutting followed a night of heavy rain and flooding throughout Covington that caused the types of problems this new system aims to address. "It's a shame we don't have more of this throughout the city," said Mayor Sherry Carran who was joined by City Commissioners Chuck Eilerman and Steve Frank as well as City Manager Larry Klein, other city officials, and representatives from the agencies involved in the park's creation.

The descriptive panels were designed by the firm Gray & Pape who were hired as cultural resources consultants for the project.

City Manager Klein said that when he joined the city staff as assistant city manager five years ago that this project was one of the first placed on his plate. "It's satisfying to see all this come to fruition," he said. 

The name of the new park was chosen collaboratively with the assistance of the Westside Action Coalition which was heavily involved in the planning process and was well represented at Tuesday's ribbon-cutting. The name honors Willow Run Creek which previously existed where the interstate now runs and served as an important part of Covington's late nineteenth century industrial history.

During the 1880s, commercial development near the creek included the construction of the Bavarian Brewery that used it as the water source for its operations. Two viaducts were later built across the creek at Third and Twelfth Streets to grant better access to Downtown Covington. Several parks also popped up along the site of Willow Run including Goebel Park and the Covington Ballpark at Ninth & Philadelphia Streets, both in Mainstrasse Village.

Notes from history indicate that the parks were used for picnics, sporting events, and circus performances. Once the interstate was built, Willow Run went away but left a mark on the development of the surrounding neighborhoods like Botany Hills, Lewisburg, Peaselburg, and the Westside.

Take a photo tour of the new park:

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