By Ed Richter
The Journal-News Staff Writer
HAMILTON — The Hamilton Parks Conservancy is expecting a busy second year.
Since its launch in January 2015, the nonprofit organization that manages the more than 1,300 acres of city park property has made several improvements and has added amenities to the city-owned facilities. Under a management agreement with the city, the conservancy is also responsible for all parks-related activities, including parks maintenance and program scheduling and the system’s capital investment and planning programs. A volunteer board oversees the conservancy, which operates on an annual budget of about $1.3 million that comes from a variety of sources and state grants.
“Things have worked out very well,” said Steve Timmer, the conservancy’s executive director. “The city has been cooperative and we have built a lot of good relationships (in the community).”
Timmer said 2015 was the first year of a three-year plan to rebuild restrooms, shelters and playgrounds throughout the parks system.
During the first year, Timmer said the conservancy did some rehabilitation to every restroom in the parks and put down some 800 cubic yards of material for the playgrounds. He said there was a focus on efficiency and planning that led to getting 90 percent of the parks mowed on a weekly basis.
Also completed in 2015 was the construction of two new spraygrounds, rebuilding or rehabbing 21 picnic shelters, building a new playground at Jim Grimm Park, painting park facilities, removing 300 dead trees and re-grading park roads and parking areas in Joyce Park and Millikin Woods, and other maintenance projects.
In addition, Timmer said the conservancy also addedmore appropriate trash receptacles, purchased 20 to 30 park benches and replaced eight grills.
“People in the community are noticing the improvements and we’ve received a lot of positive comments,” he said.
“Our second year will be the busiest of the three-year plan as we are overseeing the construction of Marcum Park and a downtown pocket park,” Timmer said. “Our focus is to make Hamilton’s park system the best in the state.”
During the winter, Timmer said his crew has been busy getting ready for the spring. He said they have already refurbished 59 picnic tables, built 56 new picnic tables and still have 12 more to build, and are painting a number of other picnic tables. This is in addition to a number of projects planned over the next few months to improve the parks as well as other collaborative projects through partnerships with MetroParks of Butler County and the Miami Conservancy District.
HAMILTON PARKS CONSERVANCY’S 2016 PROJECTS
SOURCES: City of Hamilton, Hamilton Parks Conservancy; photo of the new downtown pocket park by Nick Graham, Journal-News