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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Generous donation from Highlands alum leads to Eden Park transformation

Tom Jones, with family, at the ground-breaking ceremony at Eden Park. 

A field in Eden Park will be getting some needed improvements and renovations thanks to the generosity of Fort Thomas native and Highlands High School alumni, Tom Jones.

As it sits now, the park includes a single basketball court, which will stay, and is popular with rock climbers who traverse what remains of the reservoir walls.

The area will be renamed the Tom Jones Commons for Jones, who would take daily walks through the park from his Mt. Adams home. The retired Proctor and Gamble attorney, now living in Florida, also generously donated to the renovations of many of the schools in Fort Thomas, including the plaza outside the gymnasium at Highlands High School.

"We stood right up on top of the (reservoir) wall and we looked down on this space and it was green and it was open but it was very empty, and thus the seed was planted," Jones said at the ground breaking ceremony in October.

"One thing I really like about the new children's play area is it's going to be totally done by the park staff using their own design and using natural materials they're going to get not only from Eden Park but from other parks that they'll bring in and be very creative about creating this space for the kids."

The project will create a walking loop around the perimeter of the field and extend to Playhouse in the Park to connect the park with the city.

Interim Cincinnati Park Board Director Kara Kish said the space has been underutilized for years

Other improvements will include benches, picnic tables, trees placed along the walkways, additional features will include a play environment, a shelter for wonderful picnics in the shade, a new landscape, a wetland with a boardwalk, and improved site drainage and a welcome kiosk which will depict the rich history of this reservoir with interpretive signage.

Jones hints there could be future improvements, including solar "trees" that would generate enough energy to light the park and, possibly, a mini golf course.

“Parks and libraries are free and accessible to all, which is why I have chosen to give a gift that the entire community can enjoy for years to come," said Jones.

The donation will also cover maintenance of the new spaces. The Park Board, who'll manage the project, anticipates the first phase will be complete by late 2020.

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