October 3rd Meeting: Design and Status of Park and Triangle

You are cordially invited to a Coalition-hosted community forum on the latest developments with the design and status of the Westwood Town Hall park grounds and Gaines Triangle at Harrison and Epworth Aves. Cincinnati Parks and MKSK landscape architects will showcase plans and news on Monday, October 3, 2016 at 6:30 pm in the Epworth Room at Westwood United Methodist Church, 3460 Epworth Ave. Please share this announcement with your Westwood friends and neighbors.

Presentation and Q&A, Closing a Portion of Urwiler Ave

Representatives of the Westwood Coalition and the City of Cincinnati Department of Traffic & Engineering will be on hand Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the parlor at Westwood Town Hall to speak again exclusively to the proposed closing of the short section of Urwiler Ave between Harrison Ave and Epworth Ave. Note that this is an information sharing and listening session. It is not a hearing. We will start with the proposal and the process that led the Coalition to this recommendation. Then we will address a number of questions that were raised by neighbors. Then we will open it up to questions. We will end not later than 8:30 pm.

Gaines Triangle, Urwiler Av from Epworth to Harrison

The Westwood Coalition held several heavily attended community meetings 2014 about concepts for a “Westwood Square”. Out of that process came recommendations and plans for Gaines Triangle, or what we’ve referred to as the “Bowtie”. The Bowtie is the tip on Town Hall park grounds at Harrison and Epworth Aves and, across the street, Gaines Triangle, the two triangular shapes making up the Bowtie. You can read the Coalition’s full report at  and summaries of community meetings here  and here and here and here and here or just read through many of the blog posts on the Coalition’s website. You would probably also be interested in the latest architectural drawings and information.

Recently, a resident of Urwiler Ave expressed concern about the closing of the little stretch of Urwiler that runs between Harrison Ave and Epworth Ave. It is temporarily closed this summer for Pop! Goes Westwood and is proposed for permanent closure for the expansion of Gaines Triangle. Note that Planning Commission approval for a permanent closing is required.  The Planning Commission process is open to the public.  Whether or not you can attend the Planning Commission hearing (unscheduled as of this writing), all letters of support and opposition will be presented to the Planning Commission for their consideration.

As part of the Urwiler street closure process, letters and post cards were sent to many properties affected by the changes. This detail is provided by the Department of Traffic & Engineering.

  1. On the east side of Harrison, all properties received mailings on Montclair and Urwiler from Harrison to Hazelwood.  All properties on Epworth also received mailings from Harrison to just north of Montclair, and on the east side of Harrison from Epworth to Montclair.  Since Hazelwood and McFarlan residents have alternate routes, they were not considered for the mailings as being “directly impacted”.
  2. On the west side of Harrison, all properties received mailings on Urwiler from Boudinot to Harrison, on Stathem from Montana to Harrison, on Junietta from Stathem to Epworth, and on Harrison from Epworth to Stathem.  Adjacent corner properties were also included on Montana, Boudinot and Epworth.

An initial letter was sent dated November 18, 2015, and a follow-up letter was sent to those that had not responded dated January 20, 2016.  The Department of Traffic and Engineering received responses from nearly 50 percent of all addresses after the two mailings.  Approximately 80 percent were in favor of the changes on both sides of Urwiler.  This overall number in favor of 40 percent is close to that required for street calming, which is essentially the work of the small island.  This approval is not high enough for the work on the west side of Harrison, which is a full closure and requires 75 percent approval.

In the coordinated report process, only Fire had an objection, and it was related to the full closure on the west side of Harrison.  The Fire Department does not object at all to the closing of Urwiler between Epworth and Harrison Aves.

You are welcome to comment here (we review comments before posting to filter out spam) or email revitalizewestwood@gmail.com or talk with any representative to the Westwood Coalition. We will announce any future Coalition meetings on our website regarding Gaines Triangle, Town Hall Park Grounds, Planning Commission hearings involving the Bowtie area, and other matters of interest to the Coalition’s work on the revitalization of the business district.

 

Town Hall Park: Dog Park Option

The Westwood Coalition would love to gather additional perspectives on one aspect of the current plans for the Westwood Town Hall park grounds. The plans include a small dog park on the side of Town Hall grounds along Montana Avenue, across from Westwood School. Earlier community input showed mixed support so we’d like to check one more time before the Coalition submits its perspective on this issue. Here’s a one question survey. Please let us know over the next few days. The poll expires in one week. Share with your Westwood friends and neighbors.

Concept E: Park & Triangle Plans

Thanks to the many Westwood residents who have offered comments on the conceptual drawings for Westwood Town Hall Park and Gaines Triangle. This has been very helpful to the Cincinnati Parks and the design team at MKSK. Westwood residents serving on the Coalition and its member organizations as well as the local residents on the Parks steering committee for the project have been reading all the input and welcome more. Let the Westwood Coalition know what you think of the latest plan, Concept E, pictured here.  There is great enthusiasm for the overall plan for the park grounds and the Gaines Triangle at Harrison, Epworth, and Urwiler. Respondents appreciate the cohesion that is emerging for the business district, the improved pedestrian and vehicular safety, the event space, playscapes, and landscaping. People like the opportunities for public art, for attending to the historic nature of the property, and the linkages between spaces. Take a good look and tell us what works especially well and where you think adjustments might be needed. The planning process is nearing completion, with another meeting with Parks and the Coalition on Thursday, August 4 and a presentation to the Park Board soon thereafter.

Perspective, Westwood Town Hall Park, Concept E

Perspective, Westwood Town Hall Park, Concept E

Concept D for Town Hall Park and Gaines Triangle

Thanks to input received from area residents, MKSK, the landscape architect at work on plans for this project, has developed Concept D. The Westwood Coalition continues to invite your comments as refinements are made. Here are some questions in which we particularly are interested:

  • Which design elements are the most favorable to you?
  • Do you like the notion of imaginative, creative playscapes?
  • With this redesign, what can you imagine happening at the Town Hall Park in terms of programming?
  • Would you like to see a water feature? What type? For what purpose?
  • Do permanently placed urban games appeal to you and, if so, where do they make the most sense?
  • What factors would help to distinguish the link between Gaines Triangle and Town Hall Park?
  • Is the dog park desirable and well-situated?
  • Are the specially marked pedestrian crosswalks at Harrison, Epworth, and Urwiler a good idea? Do you have comments on paving material?
  • When you imagine public art as part of the design, what do you imagine or hope for?
  • And, of course, we’re eager to hear your other general and specific comments.

We welcome your comments about Concept D through any representative to the Coalition or to MKSK or to the Coalition’s general email address over the next few weeks.

Mayor Unveils Revitalization Budget Proposal

At a press conference today at Westwood Town Hall, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley announced his plans for a budget proposal for neighborhood revitalization, noting that public safety is enhanced by robust economic development. Among the $10M in projects the Mayor announced this morning are significant enhancements to Westwood’s Town Hall Park and the expansion of Gaines Memorial Triangle at the intersection of Harrison, Epworth, and Urwiler Aves, an allocation of $4M.  This project is part of the Westwood Coalition’s recommendations for the revitalization of the historic neighborhood business district and supported by Westwood Civic Association, Westwood Historical Society, WestCURC, and Westwood Works.

Joining Mayor Cranley at the press conference were Vice Mayor David Mann and Councilmember P. G. Sittenfeld who both spoke in favor of the budget proposal. Mayor Cranley commented on the deep community engagement in Westwood, led by the Coalition, and similar efforts in West Price Hill and College Hill. He noted that councilmembers campaigned on the notion of putting money back into and strengthening neighborhoods and that this commitment will make good on those promises. The revitalization planning process in Westwood started in earnest more than five years ago, on the shoulders of years of work by individual organizations. In fact, Councilmember Christopher Smitherman urged community organizations to work cooperatively on redevelopment initiatives, resulting in formation of the Coalition. Calling attention to the deep, sustained neighborhood efforts, Mayor Cranley commented today that,

“The vast majority of these projects have been on the planning table for a long time, but they lacked resources to get them done.”

The Westwood Coalition recently hosted a session with Parks officials and MKSK, the landscape architecture firm developing the plans. Conceptual drawings and notes are posted here. Public comments are welcome and another public session will be offered as plans continue to take shape.

For more on today’s announcements, see coverage in the media, including Cranley calls for $10 million in neighborhood boosts (Fox 19), Morning news and stuff (City Beat), Mayor Rolls Out First Of Several Changes To Proposed Cincinnati Budget (WVXU), and Some Cincinnati neighborhoods could get big boost under mayor’s budget plan (WCPO).