Columbus City Council Approves New 78-Acre Park Near Eastland Mall
Columbus City Council has approved a plan to buy over $1.5 million worth of land near Eastland Mall to create a multi-use public park.
The area known as Easthaven near Refugee Road and Kimberly Parkway is home to apartment buildings, two elementary schools, and several churches.
The area has few city amenities. Local residents have to travel to other parts of town for access to green spaces.
The 78-acre park will run along a tributary of Big Walnut Creek and provide access to trails and natural areas, as well as spaces for playgrounds and sports.
Quay Barnes, the chair of the commission which represents the area, said she had been concerned the land would be bought for commercial use, so she was excited when Columbus's Department of Parks and Recreation asked for the commission’s support to purchase the land.
"To have a wide open space that would be dedicated to a park, as well as it being so close to residential and multi-use housing, would allow for the neighborhood of Easthaven to have a park, which they didn't currently have," Barnes said.
A $1 million grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission will pay for most of the cost of the property purchase.
Local resident Special Cobb moved near Eastland about four years ago. Cobb said she really liked the idea of the park, because there is not much green space in the area.
"I think it would be good for them to bring a park here because it's convenient for a lot of people in the area,” Cobb said.
“There's a lot of apartment buildings and apartment complexes around this area. So I think it would be really good -- just another resource for the community."
Barnes said she is excited that the park will be on a waterway near Big Walnut Creek, which will allow residents to connect to bike and walking paths. She says the park will be large enough to be used in many different ways.
"Room for the children to play. It's big enough to have soccer games and small flag football,” Barnes said. “It's a large piece of land. And we just don't have a lot of that on the east side.”
Kerry Francis, the spokesperson for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, said upon approval and building, more than 5,000 residents would be within a 10-minute walk of the park, increasing access to green space in one of the most underserved areas of the city.
“We will go through a planning process, which includes gathering public input to understand what residents need and want to see,” Francis said.
After hearing from local residents on what they would like to have access to, Francis said the project will likely be completed in two to three years.