By Wayne Allen
Several members of the community have organized to to revitalize Mound Park. This vision is being done in conjunction with Portsmouth Connex, a group that’s proposing to establish activity routes throughout the city of Portsmouth.
“Part of the Mound Park project is that we want to retain the history of the town and the history of the three Indian tribes (that currently exist within the park), Hopewell, Adena and Shawnee that were native to this area,” said Wendi Waugh, Portsmouth Connex spokeswoman. “One of the things we want to stress about this project is that we plan to disrupt no mounds or change any of that history in the park. We plan to be very respectful of that and we plan to work with existing park groups and friends of Mound Park, to make some of these things happen.”
When asked about the origins of the plan for Mound Park, Waugh said, “It began with the concept of the activity routes.”
Waugh said in the planning process for the activities routes or Portsmouth Connex some members proposed a throughway through Mound Park.
“As a result, part of the Connex route, goes north and south through Mound Park. That got everyone talking about Mound Park and the fact that it really was not a safe area for people to pass through and it really needed a lot of work,” Waugh said. “Some of the early roadblocks that we ran into were things such as: if we bring a beautiful project to fruition who’s going to maintain it, who’s going to cut the grass and who’s going to make sure we don’t have similar problem as what we currently have.”
She said some of the concerns for the group is security, property dilapidation around the park and parking.
“There have been several collaborating community members and businesses come together to look at acquiring some of the dilapidated properties, looking at parking and one security company may offer to provide some kind of security cameras for the park,” Waugh said. “We’ve worked on a lot of those things because no one wants to sink a lot of money in a project that looks beautiful for the first year and then goes downhill from there.”
She said the group will continue to work in these and other issues, but they have come together to the point where the project can be discussed publicly.
According to Connex, “the routes are designed to connect key area destinations focusing on designated lanes (bicycle/running/walking) through the Portsmouth Front Street Mural District and shared lanes leading to area parks, key entertainment, historical sites, hospitals, shopping, and beyond. Portsmouth Connex is collaborating with several community partners to begin implementation of the connection between Front Street Mural District and Shawnee State University.”
According to Connex, “Gina Chabot has created a vision for the Mound Park Project. Barb Bradbury, Gina Chabot, and Wendi Waugh presented the preliminary Mound Park design to several interested community partners.”
She said in an effort to raise the necessary funds for the project Portsmouth Connex, a project of Shawnee Recreation Trail Inc. is actively working on fundraising and collaborative grant-writing efforts.
“Final costing and plans have not been determined as the preliminary sketch is a concept and not a finalized product. The benefits of the projects are tremendous and include, improve the economic viability of Portsmouth and surrounding areas; Promote tourism and access along the riverfront and Front Street mural district; Encourage support for businesses “along the route” by providing cyclists, runners, walkers safe and marked routes to businesses, schools and the University, parks, hospitals, and other key destinations; Provide evidence of Portsmouth’s transformation into a bicycle-friendly, health conscious and forward-thinking community; and Reinvigorate existing parks with amenities thereby encouraging use of the parks as a destination stops along the route and additionally to promote the routes. The entire Connex group would love to see many mini-projects begin from the activity along Front Street and Mound Park projects,” Waugh said.
The next Connex meeting will take place at the SOMC Cancer Center at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5. For more information about Portsmouth Connex visit them on Facebook.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT