Grandview Heights plans to spruce up its front yard with a $1.2 million redo of Wallace Gardens, thanks to a large grant plus income from the Grandview Yard development.
“It’s going to happen,” Grandview Mayor Ray DeGraw said. “This goes back quite a few years.”
DeGraw and other city
leaders have had a vision to make Wallace Gardens — 4 acres on the southwest corner of Grandview Avenue and Goo-dale Boulevard that includes a community garden — more inviting, more walkable and more enticing for Grandview and Marble Cliff residents.
“We haven’t had the funds to get it done,” said Sean Robey, Grandview’s director of Parks and Recreation.
That began to change after the Big Bear warehouse that was key to the city’s economy closed a decade ago. Eventually, the warehouse was replaced by the Grandview Yard development near Columbus’ Arena District. The development has brought to Grandview apartments plus a hotel, restaurants, thousands of jobs and the income taxes they produce. A hotel tax created when a Hilton opened at The Yard resulted in about $3 million annually for the Parks and Recreation Department.
That hotel-tax income plus a $250,000 grant from the Mirolo Charitable Foundation — its benefactor, Amelita Mirolo, was a 1939 graduate of Grandview Heights High School — will pay for the $1.2 million Wallace Gardens project.
“Parks are a big part of the quality of life,” DeGraw said. “That’s part of what makes a community attractive and helps decide where people look to live.”
Tim McDermott agrees.
He’s lived in Grandview for 20 years and has been gardening in Wallace Gardens almost as long. He welcomes the changes.
“An upgrade to this park is just going to make it more family friendly and utilizable for people in our community,” McDermott said while standing near his broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants. “I really only see it as a positive.”
For decades, Wallace Gardens has been a community garden — it has been in continuous use since World War II — and lots of green space. With the proposed changes, the goal is to make it an eco-education site, pedestrian connector and lunch destination.
The changes come in the grassy area between the garden and Grandview Avenue. That’s where two arc-shaped walkways will connect to existing sidewalks. A walking/hiking path will connect Wallace Gardens and McKinley Field, another 4-acre park immediately west of Wallace Gardens.
An open-air gazebo will provide shade, protection from rain and, potentially, space for wedding ceremonies and other functions. Areas of gently sloping grassy hills will provide an amphitheater-like setting for drama or music events or possibly a farmers market.
A 3-foot-high rock wall will be built to partially separate the garden from the area to be redone.
For children, natural play areas will be created using area materials. A “boulder park” will be built using large rocks excavated from The Yard project. Kids will be able to climb on the rocks and use a slide that will be added. Large cut sections of trees will be outfitted with footholds for children to climb.
“This is kind of the trend, using nature in playgrounds,” Robey said.
Wallace Gardens was donated to Grandview in the 1930s with the caveat that it be used only for recreational purposes. Now, there are 103 plots being used to grow vegetables, flowers and herbs. Usually, there is a waiting list for the plots, but a few remain this year.
The ultimate goal, the mayor said, is to first redo Wallace Gardens and then, when money is available, redo McKinley Field.
“I’m a tremendous fan,” McDermott said, “of all the changes and upgrades that they’re doing down here.”