Updated May 7, 2020 at 10 a.m.
The Cincinnati Park Board approved a proposal to indefinitely close the driveway running through the Twin Lakes overlook area of Eden Park. The decision came Thursday, May 7.
The closure was recommending by staff who say vehicle/pedestrian safety along Lake Drive is a problem with the road bisecting the area. Several board members expressed concern about the loss of parking. Staff say they'll work with Cincinnati Police and the transportation department to investigate possibly adding street parking along Eden Park Drive.
Board member Kevin Flynn requested a paved path be added around the gates closing off the road to allow people with wheelchairs and other mobility concerns to easily navigate entrance.
Parks Director Kara Kish told board members the majority of public comments received support closing the road, though there were a few concerned about parking and some neighbors worried about the increase in traffic on nearby residential streets.
A staff report recommending the closure states the popular area is often packed with visitors and pedestrians and the road running through it, Lake Drive, poses safety concerns and traffic congestion.
"The area's features are close together and relatively compact, which leads to over-crowding," the memo states. "Pedestrians must cross Lake Drive to get to the playground and overlook, leading to pedestrian/vehicle conflicts. It also creates traffic and vehicle/pedestrian safety problems when vehicles exit Lake Drive onto Eden Park Drive."
The report continues, stating the parks department receives numerous safety and noise complaints annually from park users and neighbors. Signage was added last year to "promote safer behaviors" and gates were installed to block access as needed. Those gates were closed March 26, Cincinnati Parks says, to reduce crowd size during the coronavirus pandemic.
"This closure has significantly improved many of the conditions described above by decreasing crowd sizes, preventing pedestrian/vehicle interactions, and improving traffic safety for those traversing Eden Park Drive," the memo says, adding park staff will work with police "to determine parking and access for those in wheelchairs or with strollers."
Spokesman Rocky Merz tells WVXU park visitor numbers remain high during the pandemic despite the road closure and the number of safety incidents has decreased.
The park board is scheduled to discuss the matter May 7 at 9:30 a.m. The meeting at Cincinnati City Hall is closed to in-person viewing because of the pandemic. It will be broadcast on CitiCable and livestreamed at www.cincinnati-oh.gov. Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was first published May 6 at 2 p.m.