Full story: Powell’s new Seldom Seen Park getting looks now

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek
Hannah Berger, 8, plays on a miniature zip line at Seldom Seen Park on Oct. 23. The 23-acre park, on the north side of Seldom Seen Road and west of Liberty Street and the railroad tracks in Powell, opened Oct. 21.

It took much more than two years from start to finish – and it has had some nicknames because of the delays – but Powell’s new Seldom Seen Park has opened.

The 23-acre park, on the north side of Seldom Seen Road and west of Liberty Street and the railroad tracks in Powell, opened Oct. 21.

“This is the city’s ninth community park. It adds to and enhances our profile of green spaces and amenities for our residents,” said Megan Canavan, assistant city manager.

The park features athletics fields, a concession stand, a natural playground that includes a zip line, a nature preserve, multiuse paths and a sizable parking area with 291 spaces.

“We’re grateful for the community’s patience and support while the city worked through an extended construction phase,” City Manager Andrew White said. “This park has faced many challenges in the planning, design and construction phases.”

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Powell City Council in August 2017 unanimously voted to reject three bids the city had received for work on the initial phases of the park. Although officials had estimated the initial work at $3.4 million, the two qualifying bids came in at $3.8 million and $4.4 million, according to city records.

When a 2016 estimate for the entire project came in at $9 million, city officials decided to move forward with the park in phases because the city lacked funding for the full project.

Council voted unanimously in September 2017 to allow then City Manager Steve Lutz to negotiate directly with firms instead of going out to bid for a second time.

Council on Jan. 16, 2018, unanimously approved a contract of about $1.8 million with Trucco Construction and a contract of about $1.3 million with Thomas and Marker Construction for work on the first three phases of the park.

Ground was broken for the park in April 2018, but construction did not begin until that October. Bidding-process delays, construction issues and environmental concerns all served to lengthen the construction timeline.

“There were delays of one kind or another in all phases,” Canavan said. “It’s been nice ... to hear from some of our residents that it was worth the wait.”

“Believe me, we’ve heard (it called) ‘Never Seen Park,’” Mayor Frank Bertone said. “It’s exciting to see it come to fruition. We’re sorry it took so long.”

Bertone said funding was approved for the project in 2012 as part of a bond issue supporting several capital-improvement projects.

“(The city) had this parcel and asked, ‘What can we do for our residents?’” Bertone said. “There is such a growing demand for athletic fields, park activities and outdoor spaces, we just had to get it done. We’ve beaten ourselves up internally, but we’re there now, and it’s time to focus on the positive.”

Some of what Bertone called the park’s “cool features” accounted for some of the delays, he said, citing environmental work on the wetlands and construction of the natural play area.

Both Bertone and Canavan said recreational programming, which is conducted through the city’s parks and recreation department and partner organizations, will be a focus for the park in coming months.

“The park will serve as a catalyst for new programming," Bertone said. “Residents have told us they wanted the green space but also more programs.”

“We’re currently crafting our programming for winter and spring,” Canavan said. “In the past, we’ve also done some programming with partners such as Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District and Preservation Parks of Delaware County, and I would expect we’ll find ways to work with them again.”

Bertone said he wouldn’t rule out a rebranding effort in the future, focused on renaming the park, but he offered no timeline.

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