Community Input Sessions Showcase Plans for $5M Ziegler Park Overhaul

The public will have another opportunity to weigh in on the proposed renovation of Ziegler Park on July 23. This will be the third in a series of meetings focusing on the renovation and potential expansion of the park, which is located at the northwest corner of Thirteenth and Sycamore streets.

The community input session will be held at the Woodward Theater, located at 1404 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine, at 5pm on Thursday.

The 1.4-acre park currently contains a pool, playground area, and shelter with picnic tables. To its east sits Cutter Playground and the former School for the Creative and Performing Arts building, which is being converted into a 142-apartment development called Alumni Lofts. Then, to the north, is a large parking lot, with a basketball court located just across Thirteenth Street to the south.

The latest proposal for the park was presented in late June at the launch of the Citizens for Cincinnati Parks levy campaign. The plan, said to cost $5 million, depicted the current Ziegler Park site renovated into a large, open lawn space, with the removal of the existing pool; and the parking lot to the north being removed and converted to an aquatics and play area.

A parking garage would be built under Cutter Playground, serving both the residents of Alumni Lofts and visitors to the park and surrounding area. Several enhancements along Sycamore Street would make it easier for pedestrians to cross between Ziegler Park and Cutter Playground.

According to the project team, which consists of the Cincinnati Park Board, Cincinnati Recreation Commission, City of Cincinnati, and 3CDC, the latest site plan will “maintain and expand park amenities while meeting the parking demands of the neighborhood.”

After gathering feedback, organizers say they will prepare a preliminary master plan that will be presented at a fourth community input session. From that, the final master plan will then be developed.

  • charles ross

    Definitely a sore spot in OTR.

  • Mark Christol

    What is an “aquatics and play area”

    • I suspect it is a type of sprayground…basically a water play area that does not include a pool. Cities across the nation have long been in the process of getting rid of municipal pools due to the liabilities associated with them.

    • thebillshark

      The design presented at the meeting did include a new swimming pool in that area.

    • Mark Christol

      Full size or just a wading pool?

    • “Deep-water” pool… which I presume means full size.

    • Matt Jacob

      Yes, they want to make it a deep water pool since there aren’t any others close by. I haven’t been into the current pool but apparently it’s so old that it’s some middle way between a deep water and a shallow pool.

      It was unclear if the part to the east of it was a spray area or something else though. Not sure they’ve really gotten that detailed in the plan yet as it’s more conceptual at this point.

    • Interesting. Then maybe it is both a pool and a sprayground.

  • Jules Michael Rosen

    It will be sad to see this historic pool go. The entry buildings, gate, and fencing are so much nicer than anything built today.

  • The redevelopment of the SCPA building is interesting. The most recent plans included a small above-ground garage, but if this particular plan were to come to fruition, then it would be an underground garage, which would be much nicer in my opinion. I wonder how close to reality that idea actually is.

    • An underground garage would present the same hurdles seen at Washington Park, including excavation of an archeological site.

      I’m a little confused by the “need for parking” given all the lots to the south, but they must know something I don’t.

    • I am critical of new parking being added to OTR, but hiding a garage underground is a great option when we have the opportunity to do so, as we do here. The addition of these spaces could speed up the development of nearby blocks that lack parking today. As for the surface lots south of the SCPA, here’s hoping that those get developed sooner rather than later.

    • Matt Jacob

      The thing I liked about the bigger underground garage (besides it hiding the parking garage) is that it would be a public garage operated much like Washington Park’s. Alumni Loft residents wouldn’t have reserved spots built into their rents and would instead have the option to purchase a monthly pass.

    • The developer stated that their clientele wouldn’t cross a street to get to their car. I’m skeptical but I’m sure they know more about renters than I do.

    • The underground garage would seemingly replace the planned above-ground garage for the SCPA apartments, which would be a good thing. While there are a lot of surface lots to the immediate south, I don’t see those remaining indefinitely. Someone will snatch those up and build something on them.

    • Assuming the current owners decide to sell…

    • I’m pretty sure at the owners of the old SCPA building have been part of the planning process for the Ziegler Park/Cutter Playground renovation. It’s a better situation for them if the underground garage gets built, because they won’t have to build and maintain that parking deck for their residents. They also will be able to remove the surface parking lot between their building and Sycamore and turn it into green space; with the previous parking deck plan, they would need to retain that lot for additional resident parking.

    • My understanding from what the folks at Pendleton NC said is Core wasn’t included. But, I never know who to believe with these neighborhood groups.

    • Matt Jacob

      My understanding is that Core will either proceed with their approved half underground garage/half surrounding surface lot plan or that they are on board for this new larger and fully underground garage. I think it was assumed that at least some the “private donations” would be coming from Core for the second option.

      I don’t think they looked at the surface lots to the south due to anticipated future development like you said. They were mainly focused on providing for the new residential at the old SCPA and replacing the city surface lot that Main Street uses. See page 25 of the presentation.

  • Aaron Watkins

    I just kind of hope they enforce some trash clean-up, the amount of litter down there is pretty striking at times.

    • I was hoping the Grant Park re-do would do the same along/around McMicken, but so far the litter actually looks worse.

    • That’s too bad.

    • Matt Jacob

      I was hoping the same thing. Not sure there’s more trash though; I think the fencing might just be concentrating it as the wind blows it around. Regardless, it’s more about changing the culture of trashing your own neighborhood than anything.

    • Agreed on the culture. Maybe OTRCC can partner with KCB on another “Don’t Trash the Nati” (or similar) campaign?

      And I’m not sure there’s more at Grant Park but the main stretch of McMicken and some of the side streets have gotten pretty bad. I might take some trash bags with me on my next walk over to Findlay…

    • charles ross

      13th, Goetz and Yukon area is a mix of slums and unoccupied buildings – trash is typically scattered around slums and abandoned housing. That picnic shelter is now functioning as a living area and piazza for folks who apparently have nowhere better to go.

  • The presentation from this session is now available online:

  • 3CDC presented this as an “approximately $30 million” project. I presume the $5 million is only the proposed city parks portion? (Another $10 million coming from donations and $10 million coming from NMTC, from what I understand.)

    Also interesting to note, that to my knowledge this plan is still at odds with what Core got approved last month.

    • You are right that this is in conflict with what Core got approved, but I’ve heard they’re still working on adjustments to that…perhaps this is why. And yeah, I’m still trying to work out what exactly the $5M represents. The parks levy plan is not detailed or all that clear in what it is trying to fund.

      Perhaps that parks levy will only contribute $5M to this effort, while the rest of the money will have to come from elsewhere. But that’s really the problem with the parks levy plan…most of the projects are in the conceptual stage at best, and therefore don’t have a clear budget estimate or scope. As a result, I don’t see how the levy can actually follow through on all of these items that it is presenting as getting done should it pass.

    • Matt Jacob

      My understanding is Core is on board with either parking plan. If this larger underground garage idea doesn’t go through they’d go back to their approved half garage.