PORTSMOUTH — The Scioto Foundation has awarded Main Street Portsmouth $60,000 to construct an outdoor physical fitness park on the Portsmouth riverfront as part of the Rethinking Downtown Portsmouth Grant Initiative.
The Main Street Portsmouth grant project, named “Operation Riverfront Shapeup,” is an outcome of the Rethinking Downtown Portsmouth Summit which occurred on April 1 and 2, 2019. A vote by those who attended the summit selected Main Street Portsmouth to receive the grant.
The new physical fitness project, where adults will be able to get an authentic workout while their children enjoy the already-existing playground along the beautiful riverfront, was part of a massive riverfront redevelopment plan created by Main Street Portsmouth, the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, the City of Portsmouth, the Scioto County Visitor’s Bureau and the Southern Ohio Port Authority through 2015’s America’s Best Communities Challenge.
Now the Scioto Foundation’s “Rethinking Downtown Portsmouth Grant Initiative” will make it possible for Main Street Portsmouth to purchase “exercise machines reviewed and selected by local expert Dale King to provide what most people would need to work out a majority of their muscles,” according to Main Street’s grant application.
Proposed components will include two combination units that allow multiple people to work their upper body, arms and abdomen; two cross sections for cardio; a triple pull-up
system for upper body, arms and back; three benches for abdomen, back, arms and legs; and a leg machine.
“The grant will provide 9 machines to get the park started with a big splash,” as described by Joseph Pratt, Director of Main Street Portsmouth. “It will create an outdoor physical fitness court for only $60,000, something unique to this area which will make a large impact to improving community health and desirability.”
“The idea is that people in the community such as those who bike the river or run the levee, can visit the gym and have a plethora of tools to exercise a variety of muscles,” said Pratt in the grant proposal. “Additionally, anyone else for that matter will be able to drive down to the river with friends and work out at the gym and then run the river. Projects such as this, the dog park and skate park, will all work together and continue to build momentum in making this town a lifestyle city with unique opportunities not found in nearby communities.”
The $60,000 grant will also allow for the purchase of several new trash receptacles which are badly needed in the area and pay for shipping of the new equipment, signage giving directions on using the hardware and crediting the funding sources for the park, along with installation costs and other minor improvements to the park.
Plans call for the exercise equipment to be ordered and delivered before the spring of 2021. Once the weather breaks Main Street Portsmouth will purchase installation equipment and the City of Portsmouth will assist in installing the items under the direction of MSP Director Pratt and City Service Director Jack Tackett. After the project is finalized with the placement of signage, it will be wrapped up with a media campaign managed by Pratt and Chamber of
Commerce Director Lisa Carver to introduce the community to the new and improved park with features new to this area and region, Pratt said.
During the 2019 “Rethinking Downtown Portsmouth Summit” some 70 selected individuals representing the local business community, as well as nonprofit and governmental sectors, came together to form and strengthen relationships with one another. In addition, they explored and developed a strategic vision for the downtown, identified critical issues and opportunities facing the downtown and built momentum for continued community collaboration.
Grant applicants for the “Rethinking Downtown Portsmouth Grant Initiative” were required to focus upon the key strategic issue areas and the strategic issue statements uncovered during the summit. These included Marketing and Branding, Infrastructure Development/Housing, Youth Development and Collaboration and Communication.
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