Later this month the new “pocket park” in the SE corner of the Cincinnati-Dayton and Station Roads intersection will be complete and it will be a center point, gathering place for businesses and residences in Olde West Chester. The pocket park has been part of the Cincinnati-Dayton Road Improvement Plan in Olde West Chester since 2017.

The National Recreation and Park Association define a pocket park as:
“a small outdoor space, usually no larger than ¼ of an acre, usually only a few house lots in size or smaller, most often located in an urban area surrounded by commercial buildings or houses on small lots with a few places to gather, relax, or to enjoy the outdoors. They provide a safe and inviting environment for surrounding community members and they meet a variety of needs and functions including small event space, spaces for relaxing or meeting friends, taking lunch breaks, etc.”

Pocket parks, also known as mini or vest-pocket parks, typically include sitting areas, plantings, trees, often a water feature and are intended for use by the local population to improve the quality of the environment and life. One thing pocket parks don’t have is parking! This is intentional because the pocket park is intended to be used by the local community for short respites and the means to access is non-vehicular.

Journal Square on High Street in the city of Hamilton is a good example of the design of an urban pocket park.

The two-year Cincinnati Dayton Road Improvement Project was much needed and in the works for a long time. “This is a project that’s been in the works for a number of years,” Wilkens said. “The Engineer’s Office partnered with West Chester Township to coordinate with local businesses and residents in the project area. Everyone had the same goals — to make the area safer for motorists and pedestrians while enhancing the aesthetics and business climate of Olde West Chester. We appreciate everyone’s involvement and hard work. Many ideas from our interaction and the feedback received were incorporated into the final project design.”

There was a need to widen Cincinnati Dayton Road to accommodate existing and projected traffic, reduce roadway congestion, and improve motorist and pedestrian safety. Specifically, the project included:
• Widening 1.1 miles of Cincinnati Dayton Road from two to four lanes from West Chester Road north to near the I-75 ramps. The resulting roadway will be two northbound lanes, a center turn lane for safety, and one southbound lane.
Realignment of Station Road slightly to the south of the existing alignment to improve geometrics at the LeSourdsville West Chester Road / Cincinnati Dayton Road intersection.
• Widening the Cincinnati Dayton Road bridge over the East Fork Mill Creek.
• Replacing the Station Road bridge over the East Fork Mill Creek.
• Constructing curbs and new ADA-compliant sidewalks on both sides of Cincinnati Dayton Road.
• Installation of a new closed storm sewer system.

The realignment of Station Road is where the pocket park came in.

From the ‘Before Construction Picture of the Cin-Day and Station Rds Traffic Signal’, the building on the right was purchased by the BCEO and removed to do the realignment.

After the realignment, there was a small “difficult” patch of land available that had very steep banks on the creek side that would have been hard to maintain due to the terrain. The county gave West Chester the land so we could improve it with the pocket park.

The pocket park price tag was approved by the Trustees for a not-to-exceed construction cost of $359,000 which included a 10% contingency fee. The Park was paid for by business property taxes collected in the Union Centre Blvd TIF – NO RESIDENTIAL TAXES WERE SPENT ON THE PROJECT.

The pocket park along with the new sidewalks on both sides of the street, the signalized pedestrian crosswalks, benches, decorative trees and other landscaping that adorn the right of way, the uniform mailboxes and decorative LED light posts have breathed new life into this business district.

“Olde West Chester is one of the longest continually operating business districts in the community and new investment continues to revitalize the district while maintaining its character. This project addresses motorist and pedestrian access and safety, but also demonstrates a commitment to preserve and invest in the future success of Olde West Chester. Sidewalks, roadway improvements to enhance travel, new lighting and a pocket park will all further define this corridor and re-imagine its historic roots,” said Township Administrator Larry D. Burks.