By Nikki Blankenship
Scioto County Candor
With the mission of “inspiring health through play” Portsmouth Connex has joined forces with other community organizations to bring new life to Mound Park in Portsmouth through their Revitalize Our Mound Park (ROMP) initiative.
Bill Kirby with Connex explained that the plan is to construct a walking path, with several added features, that winds through the park. Kirby explained that Connex first started working on this project late last summer/early fall when the group heard about the Scioto Foundation’s 365 grant, which was focused on funding projects dedicated to activity and health. Connex started brainstorming and came up with a path that not only encourages activity but also celebrates a bit of local history.
“The City was already working on a plan for a bike path along the floodwall, so we were looking for something different,” Kirby commented.
He added that there were already efforts to restore Mound Park’s pickleball courts, so Connex chose to also focus on the needs of Mound Park.
“Our plans are an eight-foot-wide, paved path,” Kirby explained. “If we can do everything we want to do, it will be just about three-quarters of a mile long; so three or four laps around it, and you’ve almost got a 5K.”
Connex won $20,000 through the Scioto Foundation grant. The City of Portsmouth has also pledged $25,000 to the project. Kirby explained that some of that has already been spent paving the old road that goes from Grant Street through the park to the shelter buildings. The path will start there, continue to the pickleball courts, around the ball fields and around the horseshoe mound.
Though the original plans were to honor the ancient tribes and history of
The design of the Mound Park walking path underway by Portsmouth Connex.
the park, Kirby explained that those plans had to be revamped in order to avoid halting progress on the project. However, the notion is still an important element of the plans. The designs include plans for a plaza that will serve as a rest area with benches with information about the history and earthworks of the site. It will also include a map of the original earthworks once located in the area.
“About the only thing left now that’s recognizable is the horseshoe mound,” Kirby stated.
Kirby explained that Connex started an archeological survey in January. After encouragement to do more studies of the park before beginning such an effort, Kirby said Connex has committed with the help of the City to do more archeological studies. Connex is working with both the State Historical Preservation Office and local historians to learn more about the mounds and mound builders that once occupied the area. Kirby added that Connex has also reached out to 12 tribes for their knowledge and input.
“Our plan is not to impact anything structurally that might be left from the old mounds,” Kirby explained.
He further stated that the plans were designed in such a way that even after the reviews and surveys of the park, very little changes need to be made to the plans.
The project is estimated at costing $115,000. With grant funding, committed funds from the City and funding from Connex, there is still quite a bit of funding needed to complete to path.
As a result, Connex is looking for donors, who will be recognized for their contributions. Bronze level donors will be honored with recognition on bricks that will be used for the base of the monument in the plaza. 4×8 bricks are $125; while, 8×8 bricks are $250. Silver level donors, those donating $2,500 to $9,999, will be recognized with their name on a bench. Gold level donors, giving $10,000 or more, will receive recognition on the main monument.
The goal is to have the path completed by the end of summer, Kirby explained. After completion, the project will be handed over to the City to be maintained. According to Kirby, the City has already starting working on new lighting, security cameras and upgrades to courts throughout the park. He added that the focus on Mound Park is a community focus.
“It’s not just us,” he said. “There are several organizations that are working to revitalize Mound Park. Improving the park helps everyone that lives around the park.”
For more information about ROMP, or to make a contribution, visit https://connexmoves.org/romp/.