Veterans Park to become reality

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ironton will be getting a new park.

After a couple months of talk between the Friends of Ironton and the city government, the Ironton City Council passed a resolution Tuesday making an 11-acre section of city property near Moulton Field and the Ironton Hills shopping plaza into Veterans Park.

While the city will retain control of the property for insurance reasons, the Friends of Ironton will be allowed to make improvements on the property, including bathrooms, a stage and security fences.

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“They have agreed to clean it up and make a park out of it and the mayor will decide who can use it,” said City Council president Chuck O’Leary. “The Friends of Ironton will use it at their leisure and we will work around them.”

Rick Jansen, the FOI president, said the group is pretty excited.

“We think we can do great things in the city and we are looking to get that spot cleaned up and have a multiuse facility for all of Ironton to use,” he said. “It’s going to be a great thing for the area.”

The Friends of Ironton want the property because of the growth of events like the Rally on the River and Oktoberfest. And although other cities have made offers to FOI to move the rally, the Friends of Ironton have stated they want to keep their events in Ironton.

The FOI will get their investment back by renting out the facilities when they are built.

“Hopefully, they’ll get their money back,” O’Leary said. “It is not going to make them a lot of money but it will keep those guys in town.”

Jodi Rowe-Collins, FOI treasurer, said that their events would still be focused around the downtown area with new businesses coming into town there are complaints about blocking off streets from merchants. She said events like the Gus Macker basketball tournament would still be held downtown. But during events like the rally, people could camp at the site and bands could perform there.

Jansen said that he expects it to take a couple of years to make all the improvements to the park since the group has to raise money to finance the changes.

“We are going to do this in four stages,” Jansen said.

He said the first phase is cleaning up the park site and hauling off the mulch. The second phase would be leveling off the ground and improving drainage, putting in a roadway and putting up fences and gates. Phase 3 will be putting in security cameras and additional lighting. The final phase would putting in buildings.

“We’re hoping that within five years we will have everything the way we would like to have it,” Jansen said. “But we are excited. We have been looking at this property for a couple of years and now it looks like we are ready to start moving forward.”