New Park and Trailhead Designed to be West Side Destination
The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department is finalizing plans for a 45 acre park on the west side. Wilson Road Park, which will occupy a long-vacant triangle of land across the railroad tracks from the Hollywood Casino, will also serve as a trailhead for the recently-funded Columbus portion of the Camp Chase Trail.
Greenways Planner Brad Westall said that the park is designed to serve long-distance cyclists as well as Hilltop residents.
“The Camp Chase Trail is a very central segment of the Ohio to Erie trail, so we’re happy that we have a place where people can just ride right over to find water, restrooms, shelter, a repair station, all the kinds of things you’d want on a long distance ride. But the park,” he added, “also will function as a community amenity.”
Westall explained that residents who attended a series of planning meetings over the past year provided feedback on what types of features they wanted to see in the park. Open space, athletic fields and play equipment for kids scored high, he said, “but more than anything people were excited about this being a destination point, to draw people in and of itself, so that’s the design approach we took.”
“The site has gone natural over the years,” he added. “About half is wetlands – that’s something interesting that’s been discovered, and folks got really excited about this, to have their own natural-area parkland, with boardwalks and observation decks, a chance to get away from everything and see wildlife and birds.”
Jack Schultz, who owned Jack’s Coneys on West Broad Street and grew up on the Hilltop, said he remembers hunting on the land when he was a boy. “There were rabbits and quail,” he said. “Lots of fun memories…there was a old building on the property that I think belonged to the railroad, but it was our fort.”
Business and community leaders in the area, who have expressed optimism that the new trail and park can help to revitalize the area, may be called upon to help fund some of the project. Although the two athletic fields have already been graded and seeded, Columbus Recreation and Parks has applied for a grant from the state to pay for a parking lot and an access drive off of Wilson Road. The city will also be looking for partners from the neighborhood to help fund the remainder of the project.