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Westwood's Gamble Estate Property To Become A Park

The site of the former estate of the late James N. Gamble in Westwood will become a park.

Great Parks of Hamilton County and the Greenacres Foundation have reached a deal on the 22 acres on Werk Road. A concept plan includes a nature trail, an urban ecology center and an education office, and a greenhouse and community garden.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to directly serve a thriving and diverse community within the city of Cincinnati," says Great Parks CEO Todd Palmeter. "This urban preserve aligns with our master plan priority to expand park access to all users by providing nature-based resources in areas that are currently underserved."

The terms of a grant being used to fund the purchase require the area be used for "passive recreation," meaning the park will be largely preserved in its natural state, utilizing existing structures on the site. The funds have restrictions on new buildings or sports fields, etc.

The acquisition is expected to be complete by late summer. Great Parks says it will then begin working with the Westwood community on a final plan for the site. Palmeter tells WVXU the park could open mid-2022. However, once Great Parks takes possession, it will begin doing some initial maintenance and arbor work. It could be open for primitive (very basic) access in the fall of 2021.

There isn't yet a name for the new park. Great Parks is simply referring to it as the "Werk Road Property" for now.

"Greenacres looked at several concepts for the future of this property and recognized that supporting Great Parks to make this property a permanent park would be consistent with the wishes of our founder, Louis Nippert, who was a park commissioner," says Greenacres President Carter Randolph in a statement. "We hope that the Westwood community supports the Great Parks plan and engages with Great Parks as they develop this park and urban ecology center."

Great Parks applied for funding from the Clean Ohio Greenspace Conservation Fund and the Greenacres Foundation is providing an in-kind match. "This will allow the property to be acquired at no cost to the park district," it says.

The Gamble house was demolished in 2013 after a long fight between Cincinnati, the foundation and community members. James N. Gamble, son of Procter & Gamble co-founder James Gamble, lived in the 13-room Victorian mansion from 1875 until he died in 1932.

Historian Greg Hand is president of the Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (WestCURC). He also lives next to the Gamble property and calls the plan to turn it into a park "wonderful news."

"I believe that sort of park is exactly what the community is hoping for," he says.

Hand calls the loss of the Gamble House in 2013 a "tragedy" but is hopeful about the property's new future. He says a park is beneficial to the Westwood neighborhood and "very much in the spirit of James N. Gamble."

"His interest in the natural world and gardens and open spaces is part of his heritage and I think a park on his property really continues that part of Westwood's history," Hand says.

Credit Great Parks of Hamilton County

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.