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$2.3 million gift will expand Smale Riverfront Park

CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) -- The Cincinnati Parks Foundation gets a $2.3 million dollar gift to expand the Smale Riverfront Park.

The James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Foundation is providing the money to create the Gardner Family Grove and Rose Garden. The garden will be located in the park west of the Suspension Bridge and south of Mehring Way.

The Riverfront Park runs from Ted Berry Park all the way up to the Roebling Bridge.  By next spring the dirt lot will be a green dream scape all the way to Paul Brown Stadium.

Plans for the grove include nearly two acres of trees, the Castellini Esplanade, a picnic terrace and the Vine Street Water Garden. An 11,000 square foot rose garden will also be part of the park.  By the All-Star game in 2015 there will also be an interactive family area called the "P&G Playscape."

It's a great example of how private money gets things done.

Parks executive director, Willie Carden, told Local 12, "44 million we've raised to date that's going in this park.  Right now for every dollar of tax payer money we're putting $1.93 in private dollars. That's awesome."

James Gardner was one of the founders of the Cintas Corporation.  In a release, the Gardener says Tuesday's announcement is bittersweet. They were planning to surprise Jim Gardner with the plans for the grove and rose garden, but he passed away unexpectedly in November.

Peggy Johns, Gardner's daughter, told Local 12, "He would have loved to come down here and walked, just strolled around.  He was one of the guys back in the 70's that walked across the frozen river.  He just loved it and loved the revitalization of it."

Among other contributions to the community James Gardner was also responsible for the Mary Magdalene House in Over-The-Rhine and the Gardner Family Center for Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders at the U.C. Neuroscience Institute.

For more about the announcement CLICK HERE.

The area should be complete by spring.

Follow Rich Jaffe on Twitter @rajaffe and LIKE him on Facebook




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