PIQUA — The Friends of the Piqua Parks are joining forces with a local task force committee to address the grass slopes on each side of East Ash Street/U.S. Route 36 near the CSX railroad bridge and to begin a beautification project at that site that will be funded entirely through donations.
Ruth Koon, chairman of the Friends of the Piqua Parks, started the task force committee with other local parties, including Don Smith, Mark Casto, and Bob Graeser with the city of Piqua. They have been meeting together for over a year to find a way to improve and beautify that green space.
While they have decided on going with a landscaping option, a previous option included reducing the height of the slopes on both sides. Koon said that option would be almost prohibitive due to the cost of moving the electric utilities at the top of the south slope.
Another option they considered included installing retaining stone walls and extensive hardscape additions, but that cost was also too expensive.
Koon then explained that Casto, one of the original committee members, came up with a conceptual landscape design. They believe that landscape design will be pleasing and affordable.
“We hope to create a corridor for traffic entering and leaving our community at our major gateway that will include beautiful grass, colorful plantings, and well-maintained landscaping that will instill a positive image of Piqua,” Koon said.
The committee then proposed the project to the Friends of the Piqua Parks to see if they would be interested in helping to raise funds for the project.
“They gave their approval to join forces,” Koon said.
The Friends of the Piqua Parks committee includes Koon, Vice Chairman Edna Stiefel, Russ Fashner, Glenn Devers, Don Smith, Cindy Lillicrap, Jim Vetter, and commissioner Bill Vogt of the Piqua City Commission.
The Friends of the Piqua Parks, which is a 501c3 non-profit organization, has undertaken projects like successfully raising funds to erect a life-size bronze statue of William H. Pitsenbarger, Piqua’s Medal of Honor recipient. The organization is also completing efforts to update and improve Das Park, Koon said.
The Friends of the Piqua Parks became interested in this project due to the slopes being a major entrance into the city, Koon and Vice Chairman Edna Stiefel explained.
“It just needs to be a good example of what we want our community to look like,” Stiefel said.
Casto designed the conceptual landscaping plan using parameters discussed by the original task force committee on the project. “We want to create an area that’s visually pleasing, beautiful,” he said.
Casto, along with Koon and Stiefel, also noted how they want this project to enhance the newly painted CSX bridge.
“We want this to be the wow factor,” Casto said.
Plants and flowers that they plan on using include juniper, zebra grass, Knock Out roses, and hydrangeas. They also plan on planting six trees, but the type of tree has not been decided on yet.
The cost of the project is estimated to be between $70,000-80,000, which will be funded through donations raised through the Friends of the Piqua Parks.
Koon, along with Stiefel and Casto, presented the idea to the Piqua City Commission earlier this week, who indicated their support for the project.
“We felt very uplifted after the commission meeting,” Koon said.
The organization’s next step will be working with a landscape architect to prepare working drawings and specifications needed for the project. Koon said that the drawings and specifications will allow city officials to have the Ohio Department of Transportation review the project for their approval.
The Friends of the Piqua Parks are also expected to begin their fundraising efforts in the near future, and they will also work on developing a maintenance plan in partnership with the city. The improvement work for the site could begin as early as this fall with the excavating work and building the plant beds.
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