By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SAYLER PARK - The Hamilton County Park District is about to transform a mile of long-neglected riverfront real estate here into a regional park.
Other items in the Hamilton County Park District's 2004 budget include:
Land purchases: $3 million
Armleder Park: $100,000 to begin planning the district's part of this joint development with the Cincinnati Park Board.
Little Miami Golf Center: $1.6 million for golf course, parking and trail improvements
Glenwood Gardens: $436,000 for operations
Park commissioners have approved a $5.85 million capital budget that includes $1.5 million for picnic shelters, a playground and other improvements at Fernbank next year. The park district's budget for construction and land purchases is part of its $25.9 million overall budget for 2004.
The park district will make a total of $2.7 million in improvements to Fernbank in the next three years as part of a deal with the Cincinnati Park Board, according to county parks director Jack Sutton.
The Cincinnati board owns Fernbank, but the county district is leasing it for 15 years. It's one of several cooperative efforts since passage of the county parks' 1-mill levy in 2002.
"We've made a very concerted effort to focus on central Hamilton County and Cincinnati," Sutton said.
Sayler Park residents are delighted Fernbank is going to get some attention, according to Village Council president Ernie Macke. It's a sliver of land that runs most of the length of Sayler Park between River Road and the Ohio River.
"We take the kids there and take a walk along the river's edge," Macke said.
The Cincinnati Park Board has already put in benches, lights and a walking trail, but the county district's plans will be a big improvement, Macke said. The community has already seen an upside to the management change, he noted: County park rangers now patrol Fernbank regularly.
The south half of Fernbank will be closed for construction for much of 2004, Sutton said, and then work will start on the north half in 2005.
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