Piqua breaks ground on Lock 9 Riverfront Park


By Amantha Garpiel

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PIQUA — The city of Piqua officially broke ground on the Lock 9 Riverfront Park on Wednesday, June 14.

The project got its start with the updated comprehensive plan in 2007. Five years later, in 2012, with a technical assistance grant from the Ohio Department of Development, the first phase of the project began with the riverfront development strategy and the Piqua, Ohio Placemaking Initiative, which confirmed the need and vision for the improvements.

“This day is yet another milestone in the history of Lock 9,” said Piqua City Manager Paul Oberdorfer, “On June 21, in 1837, Piqua’s first canal boat, “The Emigrant,” was launched. On July 5, 1837, the town held a grand dedication of the canal, including Lock 9, which became the economic engine behind the growth of Piqua at that time. You fast forward to today, and here we are again celebrating the renewal of Lock 9 as a Downtown Placemaking Initiative and economic engine that has already instigated millions of dollars of private investment ahead of the project.”

Members of the city of Piqua government, community, Miami Conservancy District and Lock 9 Riverfront Park partners attended the groundbreaking to join in marking another moment in the 186-year history of Lock 9. Planning for the project began in 2007 and the initial phase of work, including relocating and under-grounding utility lines, was completed in 2019 and with the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in 2020, the project was postponed.

“There are two rules for achieving success. One, get started, and two, keep going,” said Oberdorfer. “Our city, the city of Piqua, will keep it going. Today gives us another reason to be proud of Piqua.”

Recognized by Oberdorfer at the groundbreaking were some of the partners on the project including David Gamble, of Gamble Associates, an architecture and urban design firm based in Massachusetts; MaryLynn Lodor and the Miami Conservancy District; Dan Foley with the Great Miami Riverway Coalition; Piqua Mayor Cindy Pearson; the Piqua Commissioners; Dianne Ruhenkamp with the Upper Valley Medical Center; PJ Reilly with Congressman Carey’s office; and Nick Morgan with Sen. J.D. Vance’s office.

“This is an incredible 186-year history that will be a part of our unified community and thriving economy for many years to come,” said Oberdorfer.

Pearson offered her thanks to a few of the stakeholders who contributed to the vision for Lock 9 Riverfront Park and the Downtown Placemaking Initiative. She extended her gratitude to Winans Chocolates and Coffee, RCS Construction for the development of the Lock 9 Townhomes project, Jeremy Sullenberger and Andrew Huelskamp for investing in the community and seeing the potential in the old Miami Valley Safety Building and for their work as contractors on the project with American Trademark Construction Services (ATCS), Keith and Lisa Bowman for investing in the revitalization of the Edison Building, Chad and Brandi Lawson for their investment in the former AAA Building, and Brandon Virgallito and VSF Investment for their continued investment in Piqua.

According to Oberdorfer, within the next year, the community can expect to see a tree grove leading from Crooked Handle to the Lock 9 Riverfront park with a pavilion and seating for guests to enjoy the DORA, a water feature between the Lock and Crooked Handle and the city is planning to commission an artist, through a collaboration with the Piqua Arts Council, for an interpretive piece that is representative of the canal and Lock 9.

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