One of the joys I have as mayor is representing the City in a variety of places. On Friday, March 18th, I was asked to represent Piqua at the 9th Annual River Summit at University of Dayton. “The River Summit is an initiative that was launched in 2008 linking cities, suburbs, agricultural communities, statewide groups, and a broad range of citizens in order to develop a regional strategy that makes the most of our shared assets – the Great Miami and Mad Rivers.” (quote from the River Summit brochure) I attended last years River Summit and was excited to attend this year as the mayor of Piqua and able to be part of the Mayor’s Panel and share with those gathered ALL the great things that are happening here in Piqua around the Great Miami River!
Throughout the Summit, we heard story after story about communities who turned back to the river and utilizing their riverfront as a vibrant and welcoming public space and then showing how economic development in their communities followed. Our Riverfront Redevelopment Plan is focused on doing just that. It is a 2-fold plan that includes the physical environment as well as programming.
First, I want to talk about the physical environment here in our community. The City of Piqua is working hard on changing the narrative of the river by integrating the built into the beautiful natural environment that is already there. We are very lucky because we have the Great Miami River flowing directly through the heart of our city! Recently we added a wonderful overlook on the river just adjacent from the old Piqua Power plant and directly off of our wonderful path system. It is a great place to view the river and there is much talk of the possibility of a whitewater play park there as well! There are also great plans underway to enhance the Lock Nine Park that will include a performance venue and other similar amenities to bring folks – both young and old – down to the river to enjoy and celebrate! David Gamble, who is renowned as a leader in design and strategy for the 21st Century Urban Core presented at the River Summit as well. He is also the consultant that we are using for the physical design of our Riverfront Development Plan. David shared with us that day that “along a river the aura of a city reside.” How true that is and that is why we are putting so much emphasis and money into redeveloping this portion of our community.
The second part of our Riverfront Development plan is programming because we can redevelop the space all we want but we MUST get the people down to the river to enjoy what we have! The good news is that we are already doing that with our ROCK PIQUA concerts which feature local talent and great food, and this will be the third summer for these amazing concerts in Lock Nine Park. This year they will take place on the 3rd Saturday in June, July, & August. Last year, Mainstreet Piqua held a Duck Drop before one of our concerts, and the plans are that they will do so again this summer. The Duck Drop is a fun family-friendly event for all to enjoy! This is also our 3rd year for DAR-DAB (Down a River – Down a Beer), which will include time to play in the river during the day and then time to enjoy a beer tasting overlooking the river that evening at Lock Nine Park.
Yes, the plan and dream is that Piqua will soon be a water destination for our region. We are already a destination where many “Active Living” enthusiasts come to ride, run or walk our beautiful path system. They also come regularly to participate in one of the MANY local races that are held here in our community each year! Thanks to Ryan & Amanda King and the “Can’t Stop Running” folks, over 800 people came to Piqua for the 3rd year in a row on this St. Patrick’s Day to participate in a fun-filled night for Piqua’s Annual 5K Beer Run! As I said, we are already a destination where Active Living enthusiasts come to ride, run, or walk our beautiful path system, so it makes sense that the river as a destination will follow as well!