It first became apparent in 2019 that upgrading the City of New Albany’s parks network was important to the community. City staff received many park-related comments from residents while conducting outreach for Engage New Albany, the City’s five-year strategic plan. That feedback highlighted the need for New Albany’s existing public parks to be examined and studied for potential improvements. Throughout 2020, staff worked with residents and community groups, such as the New Albany Joint Parks District, to create a Parks Framework Plan.
The Parks Framework Plan includes an assessment of the City’s current parks and equipment, analysis of the accessibility of the City’s parks and trail network, and recommendations for improvements for each neighborhood park. The recommended improvements include updated playground equipment, building accessible features so people of all abilities can use the playgrounds, and amenities such as seating and landscaping.
These improvements began in 2021 with Sumption Park in The Links neighborhood. The City of New Albany partnered with The Links HOA to install new equipment, a shade structure, seating benches and a new accessible play surface. Five more neighborhood park upgrades are planned in 2022, including Byington, James River, North of Woods, Lambton and Planter’s Grove. Once these projects are complete, all city-owned neighborhood pocket parks will have been updated, with all remaining pocket parks still being maintained by their respective subdivision’s homeowner association.
Certainly, the impact of the COVID pandemic on the local economy is something staff members are actively monitoring as it could impact the City’s ability to upgrade the parks within this timeframe. However, City Council has prioritized these efforts as they recognize how important these spaces are to residents and their overall quality of life.
While there is a lot to look forward with the neighborhood parks, the Parks Framework Plan also addresses the creation of three new destination parks to be built in New Albany in the coming years.
Taylor Farm Park
Taylor Farm Park Rendering
While there is a lot to look forward with the neighborhood parks, the City of New Albany is also currently working on designs for a larger community park in Taylor Farm Park.
The Taylor Farm site is a nearly 100-acre tract of land bounded by the Rocky Fork Creek, Dublin-Granville Road, Harlem Road and the State Route 161. It has significant historic but also ecologic value to the community. It has been a farm dating back into the 1800s.
The Taylor Farm site, which had been a farm dating back to the 1800s, is a nearly 100-acre tract of land bounded by the Rocky Fork Creek, Dublin-Granville Road, Harlem Road and the State Route 161.
City Council approved funding in early January 2021 for design work and improvements. The first phase of the park will consist of a paved trail system, landscaping, parking for visitors and a wetland overlook. The city is also working to stabilize and secure the existing farm house, barn and accessory buildings to create a safe park environment. That project is currently out to bid and the city expects to have a contractor in place in the spring of 2022 and work to begin shortly thereafter.
For the past year, the previous property owner has been constructing a wetland mitigation project on the property. The wetland mitigation project began before the city purchased the project and is expected to be completed in 2022. The following information is taken from the Rocky Fork Pooled Mitigation Site Mitigation Plan, as prepared by EMH&T on September 1, 2020:
The project will create 24 acres of forested wetland and 10 acres of emergent wetland. In addition, approximately 10 acres of upland buffer will be planted/restored and 5 acres of forested buffer will be preserved. Three wetland basins will be excavated and embankments created to reestablish hydrology on existing hydric soils. The grading will promote saturation and shallow inundation, generally from saturated conditions a few inches below the surface up to an average depth of two inches, with limited areas of deeper vernal pools. The restored wetlands are designed as seasonal features that will be wet in the winter and spring, and likely drier during the late summer and early autumn months, depending on rainfall conditions. This seasonal hydrology should support a diverse assemblage of wetland plants. The reforested wetlands will also be plated with native shrubs and trees upon completion of the wetland construction and seeding.
Taylor Farm Park rendering
City staff members have not yet determined how many phases there will be in the project overall. Taylor Farm Park will be a work in progress, with new facilities being added as capital funds allow.
Rose Run Park Phase II
The City of New Albany just celebrated the dedication of Rose Run Park on Founders Day in 2021, but we are already in the planning stages for the park’s second phase to be built across Main Street close to Village Hall.
Veterans Memorial rendering
Rose Run Phase II will include a beautiful new Veterans Memorial with a hero’s walk, plaza and water feature that will be a wonderful new public space for reflection. This Veterans Memorial will be right next to Founders Field, the community’s first cemetery, to further honor our history, and the park will be supported by up to 50,000 additional square feet of commercial space around what was the Duke & Duchess station on the corner of US 62 and Dublin-Granville Road.
There is currently no timeline for construction, but the City of New Albany is excited to see this project take the next steps towards reality.
Kitzmiller Wetland Park
Kitzmiller Wetland Park is the third destination park in our long-term plans. This park, which will be built on land that was acquired more than a decade ago between Kitzmiller Road and US 62, will include active and passive areas with walking trails, lots of play spaces and climbing structures for kids, sports courts, and possibly even a place for skateboarders.
Kitzmiller Park rendering
This park will remain in the planning stages for at least another couple of years, giving us an opportunity to plan the park in a way that best fits New Albany’s long-term needs.
Counting the Rocky Fork Metro Park to our northwest, in which we’ve invested more than $4 million, nearly one out of every five acres of our land is devoted to parks and green space. That’s more than 2,000 acres, and that number will only continue to grow. We at the City of New Albany hope that you are as excited as we are for what’s ahead with our parks in 2022 and the years to come!