RiversEdge at Marcum Park: Hamilton, Ohio
Mercy Hospital, an anchor institution and major employer in the rust belt city of Hamilton, Ohio, left town in 2006. Faced with a brownfield site in the heart of downtown, the city reinvented the space as Hamilton’s premier park and community center. Marcum Park has become a central gathering place for the community and spurred investment in the urban core.
Covering six acres, this recreation and event space together form the first major park in downtown Hamilton. The east corner of the park features an in-ground water feature that doubles as a well-used splash pad for youth. The fountain is surrounded by seating designed to evoke Hamilton’s history as a center for arts and sculpture, and the park as a whole was designed to have adequate space for future art installations.
In 2013, construction on RiversEdge Amphitheater and Overlook was completed, creating an outdoor concert venue that attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year. Marcum Park provides more green space for recreation and events, a children’s playscape, seating, and an interactive fountain, and it accommodates food trucks and vendors.
The space has promoted the health and well-being of the community, leading to the creation of walking clubs and a destination point for local families. Emphasizing the city’s connection with the Greater Miami River Recreational Trail, Marcum Park includes an ADA accessible connection to the bike trail, inviting regional trail users to explore downtown Hamilton and encouraging Hamiltonians to think of the riverfront as a place for recreation.
The park features a public bike repair station equipped with tools and an air pump. Along its eastern side is a large walking path that encourages both pedestrians and cyclists. The center of the park is primarily green space, built to work with the natural drainage patterns of the area to prevent flooding.
The diversity of designed activity and play areas, picnic spots, and open space in the park invite people of all backgrounds to enjoy varied types of recreation. The park offers high-quality amenities that were previously unavailable to the predominantly low-income community living within walking distance. In the nearby neighborhood, historic German Village, 55 percent of families are below the poverty line.
RiversEdge at Marcum Park has been a catalyst for Hamilton largely because of the consistent programming that brings tens of thousands of people to the park throughout the year. This has led to new investment in the area surrounding the park, including the creation of the Marcum Apartments mixed-use development.
The economic success of Marcum Park has had a lasting impacts on the City of Hamilton and beyond. This venture has been a testament to the power of public-private partnerships and how they can provide the best product for both residents and environmental remediation. The public-private partnership allowed a rust belt city with limited funds to create a top-notch central park.
Defining Characteristics and Features
- RiversEdge Amphitheater is equipped with energy efficient lighting elements to add accent lighting to events and light the park at night for safety. Seating and greenspace surround the amphitheater for picnic-style events.
- The park has reactivated a vacant brownfield site in downtown Hamilton, reducing toxins downtown and in the adjacent German Village neighborhood, where 55 percent of families are below the poverty line.
- The space hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including the Big River Get Down, the Free Summer Concert Series, the Hamilton Flea, the Badin Festival, the Fourth of July Celebration, and many others. Many of these events are managed by volunteers and bring tens of thousands of people to downtown Hamilton.
- The formation of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy was a catalyst for major donors like Joe and Sarah Marcum to make a large contribution.
- RiversEdge at Marcum Park has received recognition for good planning, placemaking, private-public partnerships, and environmentally sustainable practices. The Greater Ohio Policy Center identified RiversEdge at Marcum Park as an example of the need for more funding from the State of Ohio for placemaking projects.
- The City of Hamilton received a Smart Growth Award from the EPA for smart growth in downtown Hamilton.
By the Numbers
- Within a year of opening, Marcum Park spurred the $15 million Marcum Apartment project, a 102-unit apartment complex with five retail spaces on the first floor.
- 12 concerts are scheduled for RiversEdge Amphitheater during the 2018 summer season. All but one are free.
- 80 miles of paved recreational trails are accessible via a pedestrian bridge from RiversEdge Amphitheater.
- Marcum Park was made possible by the generous donation of $3.9 million from Joe and Sarah Marcum to the Hamilton Community Foundation.
The park is bordered by German Village Historic District along Buckeye Street, Second Street, Dayton Street, and Great Miami River.