“Imagine a river access site along the Civitan Park water front that replaces the existing rip rap with expansive concrete steps designed with convenient widths and depths, railing and platforms at the water’s edge. The design would accommodate sitting, viewing, fishing and landing, docking, and launching canoes and kayaks. Visitation to Civitan Park would occur by car, foot, bicycle, and boat.”

— from “A Strategic and Comprehensive Plan for Programs, Parks and Recreational Facilities,” Nov. 12, 2014.

While the above portion of the Hancock Park District strategic plan may have been pie in the sky five years ago, a mostly barren stretch of land between Taylor Street and Main Street and Clinton Court and the Blanchard River is now ready for transformation.

The time has come to move forward with giving Main Street — the part just north and east of the bridge — the attention it deserves. Revamping Civitan Park will not only enhance downtown, but help reconnect a city too divided by a bridge.

The demolition of flood-prone and fire-damaged properties has created additional space around Civitan Park, which today is perhaps one of the least visited of the Hancock Park District holdings. However, the potential there is only limited by the public’s imagination.

While the plan may need to be refreshed, most of the ideas posed in the 2014 plan remain relevant and, if implemented, would make Civitan Park a destination for many residents and visitors.

Done right, the community project would complement the attractions already in the city’s central core, including the Hancock County Courthouse, the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, and all the restaurants, bars, and other small-business offerings.

Here are a few design concepts from the strategic plan:

• Develop a destination playground with inclusive design features.

• Construct an amphitheater for music, programs, and special events.

• Replace and upgrade the Blanchard River Greenway Trail from Taylor Street to Main Street and expand the trail. Create a multi-use trail loop (around Civitan Park).

• Create an inviting park frontage along Main Street with landscaping, signage, site amenities, and trail head with a view of the amphitheater, waterfront, and the Greenway Trail.

• Add new site amenities along the waterfront and throughout the park, including picnic tables, benches, message centers, trash receptacles, recycle centers, dog waste stations, and bike racks.

• Replace and upgrade the ramp and railing leading to the pedestrian bridge.

Clearly, the seeds for a new and improved Civitan Park have been planted through the 2014 plan.

As part of our continuing discussions about the Blanchard River watershed, we encourage stakeholders, public and private, to take a fresh look at the plan and explore how the community can move the best ideas forward.

With Civitan Park, the sky is the limit. Designed right, it will accentuate and continue the revitalization of downtown Findlay and Hancock County.

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