McCord Park renovations on track to begin in late summer

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Ronald Robinson runs sprints June 2 in one of the fields at McCord Park, 333 E. Wilson Bridge Road in Worthington, which is in line for several renovations that are on track to begin in late summer. Robinson is a former Notre Dame football player and said he is trying to stay in shape now that he has graduated.

The first phase of an extensive renovation proposal for McCord Park is beginning to take shape, with construction anticipated to begin in late summer, according to Worthington Parks & Recreation director Darren Hurley.

Phase 1 went out to bid in May, with Plain City contractor Builderscape securing the work for $1.75 million, according to a recent Worthington City Council staff memo.

Council introduced an ordinance May 17 to appropriate almost $1.84 million from the city’s capital-improvements program – including a 5% contingency – to pay for the job and permit City Manager Matt Greeson to advance a contract with Builderscape, the memo said.

The city also was notified it will receive a $400,000 award from the state’s capital budget to put toward the renovations, the memo said.

City officials said the project has been a priority among a list of projects on the Park Master Plan, which was released in 2017.

“This was one of the things that came out as being highly needed,” council President Bonnie Michael said. “McCord Park was up there as one of the highest priorities.”

“It’s a community park, and it’s one of our largest parks,” Hurley said. “It’s really our major sports park, with the four (baseball) diamonds and the field hockey and soccer field. On top of that, it sits as an anchor on the Wilson Bridge Corridor.”

The Wilson Bridge Corridor has been one of the city’s major targets for redevelopment in recent years, and Hurley said renovating McCord Park, 333 E. Wilson Bridge Road, would enhance that area.

“It’s been a long-term priority within our parks overall as a renovation and opportunity,” he said. “And then the goal is kind of refreshing and making the Wilson Bridge Road corridor as attractive as possible; that kind of served to bump it up to the top of the priority list.” 

The renovations proposed for McCord Park are divided into two phases.

This is the main playground at McCord Park, 333 E. Wilson Bridge Road in Worthington. It could be replaced as part of the first phase in a park-renovation plan.
This is the main playground at McCord Park, 333 E. Wilson Bridge Road in Worthington. It could be replaced as part of the first phase in a park-renovation plan.

Hurley said phase 1’s major features will include replacing the main playground, enlarging the existing turf field into a full-size field and removing some of the parking areas while adding new ones.

“(These renovations) would kind of reshape the west side of that park,” Hurley said. 

Two shelters would be added near the southern end of the park north of the Worthington Community Center, 345 E. Wilson Bridge Road, according to a phase I rendering by Columbus architectural consultants POD Design.

“We currently don’t have any formal shelters that could be used or even reserved in the park,” Hurley said.

Another major feature of phase I will include converting an old wooden red caboose into a railroad observation deck.  

The caboose, which was donated to the city from Lynn Rutherford-Harper and Joe Harper in 2019, was built in 1922 and will be situated on the southeastern portion of the park next to the railroad tracks directly to the east of the park. Hurley said when completed, the caboose will offer park visitors a slice of history while also providing a good view of passing trains.

“This will be an opportunity for people to come and view the caboose up close and learn about it and its history, and also have a little bit of information to view the trains that go by on the track,” Hurley said. “That’s going to be a really neat new feature of the park.”

Joe Harper’s father-in-law, William Rutherford, the son of the original owners of Rutherford-Corbin Funeral Home in Worthington, purchased the caboose in the 1960s. 

Master gardener Lynn Blanton cuts heads of lettuce from a plot in the community garden June 2 at McCord Park in Worthington. The lettuce will be going to the Worthington Resource Pantry. Last year, more than 500 pounds of produce from the garden was donated to the pantry.

Phase 1 is expected to wrap construction by the end of the year, Hurley said. 

Plans for phase 2 include renovating the baseball diamonds, restrooms and storage facilities, “realigning the entry drive from East Wilson Bridge Road and the completion of the multiuse trail system that will encircle the park,” according to the Worthington city website.

Hurley said crews would begin work on the multiuse trail system in phase 1.

The Worthington Park Master Plan identifies numerous areas of improvement needed throughout the city’s parks. Its proposals total approximately $5 million, Michael said, and the city doesn’t have the money to fund all of them at the moment. 

“There’s no way we have that much extra capital improvement money, so you have to pick and choose what you can do,” Michael said. “And McCord Park was up there as one of the high priorities.” 

Michael said council does not have plans to appropriate funding for phase 2 and would not evaluate that until phase 1 is completed.

For more information about the project, go to worthington.org

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve