By Kelly Chian, ’16
Northam park has had several architectural problems over the years but currently has planned changes regarding the layout. A proposed $20 million project will likely begin next year and continue over the next few years depending on the public funds available by Upper Arlington Schools, City, Library and private funding by the Community Foundation.
City residents created the Parks & Recreation Strategic Plan in 2007 to highlight the issues with the park. The first part of the plan, reconstruction of the parking lot, is nearing completion in October, while other parts are awaiting approval.
The construction includes building a primary entrance that could be used for future events, gateways for a more concrete exit and entry and an oval shaped walkway.
The Senior Center will be relocated east to fit the extension of Tremont Elementary School. The Tremont Pool will be reconstructed in the same area, and the Northam Park Tennis Courts will be relocated to fix the draining problem. The new design additionally includes four soccer fields and four baseball fields to be placed in the middle of the space.
Director of Parks and Recreation Tim Moloney gives input on how the renovation will affect students.
“The soccer and lacrosse teams will have a better area,” Moloney said. “The two athletic fields are consistently under water and play is lost due to this.”
The park’s inefficiency for daily use and major events has become a larger problem over the years.
“[Northam Park] being our most highly utilized park has led to many challenges such as: lack of rest rooms, undersized utilities, poor field drainage, compressed fields and a general lack of amenities,” Moloney said.
With the park becoming more and more antiquated, some facilities will need to be fixed or relocated.
“Along with the challenges the parks faces, we have several aging facilities which have far outlived their anticipated life,” Moloney said.
The park hosts three main events each year: the Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks, Labor Day Arts Festival and the Taste of UA. These events may be relocated due to construction.
“We are making many improvements to this site which will make Northam a much better venue for these long-standing UA traditions,” Moloney said.
Superintendent of Parks and Forestry for Upper Arlington Steve Cothrel comments on the timeline.
“Subsequent phases could start next year or could take years to begin depending on community support and fundraising,” Cothrel said. “Most of the new construction will be funded by private support, so it’s hard to predict how things will proceed.”
The city hopes to get feedback during every one of the phases and public forums will be held closer to the construction date.
However, not all agree with the new design for the park. Junior Josie Alford finds there are minor problems in the park but none worthy of a new design.
“The park is serving many people just the way it is. I think redesigning Northam Park is a want not a need,” Alford said. “It is a wasteful use of tax money and is a net loss for our community.”
With the desire to keep the park the way it is, Alford hopes the project proposal will fall through.
“I am hoping it is just not able to happen,” Alford said. “The city has had other plans that have fallen short.”
The multi-million dollar plan requires funding from both public taxes and private donations. With adequate funding, Cothrel hopes to create an environment that benefits the school and the community.
“Years in the future, the community will have efficient, beautiful, durable, sustainable, functional and flexible spaces and facilities that will enhance the quality of life in UA,” Cothrel said. “The changes will make the community a more desirable place to live, work, or visit, increase property values, and encourage healthy activity and community celebration.”