See Ohio First

The Trail:

Everal Barn and Homestead

Alum Creek Park North

Otterbein Lake

Millstone Creek Park

Highlands Park

Boyer Nature Preserve

Bridges:  Westerville Bikeway & Leisure Path

Innis Wood

First Responder’s Park

Astronaut Grove

 

Many cities can claim more parks, recreational facilities, and/or bike path miles, but few can lay claim to being a City in a Park; purposely planned, continuously improved, and meticulously maintained. The City of Westerville’s heritage dating back to 1809, natural beauty, and careful planning make it a very special place to visit and live. The parks and recreational facilities in Westerville include almost 30 miles of bike paths and nearly 600 acres of parkland.

As a City in a Park, Westerville intentionally links its heritage to its present and future. Parks range purposes and experiences range broadly: natural respites from day-to-day hustle and bustle, family activity, education, sports, art exhibition, and performance, to recognizing and memorializing local and national events.  The diversity in our Parks’ focus and activities engages our community and visitors in the ways they want.


Site #1 —–Everal Barn and Homestead

Visitor informationeveral-barn

  • Everal Barn and Homestead
  • 60 North Cleveland Avenue
  • westerville.org/parks
  • Everal Office Hours: Tuesday 11am-1pm; Wednesday 9am-7pm; Saturday 9am-1pm
  • Historical tours are available by calling 614-901-6549

What you’ll find:

Everal Barn and Homestead, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a popular place for events, weddings, receptions, family reunions and corporate outings, with a charm that will make you feel at home. Visitors are unaware of the transformation that it took to take Everal from a 19th-century farm to a 21st-century park facility complete with modern amenities.  According to records, the farm’s story began in 1872 with John W. Everal and the founding of J.W. Everal Tile Company.

The process of transforming the site into a park was completed June 2000. Everal Farm would prove to be a massive rehabilitation endeavor. Issues faced included moving the barn 40 feet east to allow for additional lanes on Cleveland Avenue and addressing moisture problems in the barn weakening the walls and the structure. The park opened in July 2000 and is one of the City’s finest examples of preserving old and building the new.


Site #2 —-Alum Creek Park North

Visitor informationalumnn

  • Alum Creek Park North
  • 221 West Main Street
  • westerville.org/parks
  • Park closes at dusk
  • Park is free and open to the public. Shelter reservations may be made online at westerville.org or by calling 614-901-6515

What you’ll find: 

Alum Creek Park, built in 1936, remains one of Westerville’s favorite park sites. Once known as a wasteland, it is one of the community’s best treasures. Developed as part of a Works Progress Administration program during the 1930s, the park project involved 125 men reclaiming wasteland and building a dam which provided a water supply for Westerville’s filtration plant, a shelter house, an open-air amphitheater with a band shell and a log cabin. Over the years, enhancements have been made to the park but the original structures remain as a testimony to the pride of the men who found steady employment and benefitted their community during the Great Depression.  Today the amphitheater is home to a summer concert series, the dam provides the perfect location for canoeing and fishing, family picnic. Children continue to enjoy the train play structure at their “Train Park”.

Westerville started along the river as so many communities do, but then fled to higher ground to escape the frequent floods. One early reason that cities turned land into a park was to manage water. A walk through Alum Creek Park reveals a variety of ways that the water was managed as it came through Westerville. You will see the dam built in the 1930s to secure Westerville’s water supply. They also built dikes to channel the river in that area. Nevertheless, the Creek seeps up into the park during the spring. A short walk south along the river reveals extensive wetlands. When the growth of region called for more water, the Delaware County laid claim to the natural watershed of all the moving water in Westerville when they built the Alum Creek Dam in 1974 two miles upstream. With the water claimed and controlled up stream, Westerville has started a move back to its original home along the water.


Site #3—-Otterbein Lake

Visitor informationotlake

  • Alum Creek Park North
  • 221 West Main Street
  • westerville.org/parks
  • Park closes at dusk

What you’ll find: 

As cyclists and walkers travel the leisure path just west of Alum Creek Park they will encounter Otterbein Lake. Until 2003, Otterbein Lake had been hidden from view in its secluded location and was known to only a few fishermen. In the late 1960’s, Nationwide Development Company dug the lake to provide fill dirt to build up the southeastern corner of Main and Cleveland avenues, the Collegeview area and the first part Annehurst around Old Coach. In 1994, the City was able to purchase the 16-acre parcel that included Otterbein Lake from Otterbein College for $100,000; the appraised value was $264,700. In recent years the 8-acre lake has been transformed by a group of community volunteers with City support into a scenic, environmental, educational and recreational destination; offering opportunities for quiet reflection, bird watching, fishing, and plant identification.


Site #4—-Millstone Creek Park

Visitor information

  • Millstone Creek Park
  • 745 North Spring Road
  • westerville.org/parks
  • Park closes at dusk

What you’ll find: 

Located at 745 North Spring Road Millstone Creek Park is a 15-acre facility that includes a shelter with family restrooms, sports field, and basketball court. The site is the home of an Inclusive Boundless™ Playground and a nature play area. The Inclusive Boundless™ Playground is designed for people with and without disabilities to learn and play together. Metal slides help those with cochlear implants. The playground features ramps for wheelchair access, swings, slides, activity panels and canopies for shade. It also includes features for music, exercise, climbing, motion play, balance, fossil digging, and the latest electronic Neos sports game. The nature play area provides a place for children of all ages and abilities to explore nature, featuring cattail spinners, plant tunnel, water trough, earth, wetland beach and natural object exploration areas.

After the success of expanding civil rights to African-Americans and women in the 1960s, advocates for persons with disabilities successful lobbied for the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. The act shifted the burden of facilitating the inclusion of those with disabilities away from those individuals. Instead, government and business were charged with remaking the physical world to be more accessible to all Americans.


Site #5—-Highlands Park

Visitor informationhipark

  • Highlands Park
  • 245 South Spring Road, Westerville, OH 43081
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Wetlands and fields open dawn until dusk; Seasonal pool hours: -Fri.  12-8pm; Sat.  11am-8pm; and Sun.  12-6pm
  • Pool admission: Ages 3+ $8.25; Ages 3+ after 6pm $6.00

What you’ll find: 

The beauty of green combined with the splash of blue to form the environmental-friendly and leisure-rich Highlands Park. The highlight of recreation planning in 1973, the 40-acre Highlands Park promised a swimming pool complex and sports fields. It was the only piece of land available to the city when a $234,000 matching federal grant was requested for a park. Upon its opening in 1974, the pool soon became a beloved summer spot until it closed on July 31, 2010, worn and outdated. Since its reopening as the aquatic center in 2011, visitors have been zooming down the speed slide as well as enjoying the leisure pool, lazy river and spray playgrounds.  The center focuses on the environment with an entrance boardwalk that surrounds a rain garden of water absorption plants. The park wetlands include a wet meadow, aquatic bed, and marsh that are home to 50 types of plants and dozens of animal species.


Site #6—-Boyer Nature Preserve

Visitor informationnatper

  • Located at 452 East Park Street
  • 11 acres
  • Parking
  • Boyer Nature Preserve features: a pond classified as glacial kettle hole; one of few glacial relicts in Franklin County; a layer of peat formed beneath the pond’s surface has been measured to 75 feet.
  • Monroe Courtright and John Heizer donated the initial 7.8 acres of land to the city of Westerville in 1953.
  • On May 20, 1975, Westerville City Council passed a resolution to rename Boyer Park, Boyer Nature Preserve.

What you’ll find:

Boyer Nature Preserve features frogs, turtles and a family of muskrats were living among the proud, tall cattails and floating yellow pond lilies, while migrant and resident birds were seeking food and cover.  For years, students used Boyer Park as an education laboratory for observing wildlife and learning about the life-cycles in a wilderness area. Then, in the late-1970s, a new sewer line was to be channeled through the park that would result in the draining of the pond at the heart of the preserve. When teachers and students at nearby Whittier School found out, they posted “Save Boyer Park” signs and wrote letters. City officials agreed to use an alternative route, and, with fundraising by the children and money from the city, .61 acres of adjacent land was purchased for the sewer line. The nature preserve, filled with plant life termed by park naturalists as “unique and, therefore, irreplaceable,” was saved for us to observe and enjoy.  The story of how the children saved the park was published by Scott Foresman in the 1979 Social Studies 3 book and in Ranger Rick’s Nature Magazine.

This is such a unique space in Westerville both for its natural history, its contemporary ecosystem, and for the way the suburban world is always present. That this place even exists is a sign of the power of the environmental movement in the aftermath of Earth Day. In that moment, when Americans were losing touch with so much rural life as the suburbs swallowed the last agricultural areas around the big cities, one finds a concerted effort to continue to honor the distinctiveness of the land in an era of the bulldozer and the tract house. However, to be at Boyer Nature Preserve is to be always aware that you are in someone’s backyard, and these backyards have such manicured lawns compared to the natural disorder of the marsh.


Site #7—-Bridges:  Westerville Bikeway & Leisure Path

Visitor informationbikeway

  • County Line Road Pedestrian Bridge crosses County Line Road between North State Street and McCorkle Boulevard
  • Westerville Whipple Truss Bridge

What you’ll find:

A peaceful ribbon through the community, the Westerville Bikeway & Leisure path provides walkers and cyclists with a pleasurable passage along 29 miles of trails. You can enjoy the view by following the 6.7 mile County Line-Schrock Loop trail that begins at the train depot, 115 E. Park Street. Two distinctive bridges are along the route. A beautiful pedestrian bridge over County Line Road, opened August 2014, not only graces the path but also is a key piece, and nearly the center point, of the Ohio to Erie Trail.  A bridge of historic significance along the pathway is a Whipple truss bridge–an engineering style of the 1840s–that crosses Alum Creek south of Alum Creek Park. Previously spanning Big Darby Creek along Beech Road, the bridge was disassembled, relocated and reassembled in 1999-2000 with 90 percent of the original bridge retained. New rail and metal decking were installed and the original decorative abutment stone was reinforced with concrete. At the time of its reinstallment, the Franklin County Engineer’s office deemed it the last of its kind in the county.

Westerville seized the opportunity to claim its rail line for a bike path. Moving down the path takes for you for a ride through the history of the community. Much of the path moves along with right of way of the old Pennsylvania Railroad. The rail line was finally shut down in 1982 when service to Mt. Vernon ended. One still sees the residue of century of industrial activity along these corridors. Take a moment to read the landscape and reflect on your relationship to Alum Creek to the west and Big Walnut Creek (Hoover Reservoir to the east).


Site #8—-Innis Wood

Visitor informationinnis

What you’ll find: 

Innis Wood mirrors the two sisters who ensured that the smallest park in the Metro Park system would exist. Grace was flamboyant and loved flowers and gardening.  Mary loved the quiet stands of beech on their property.  Gifting the land and a substantial sum of money as a foundation, Grace Innis made certain the gardens would be available for generations to enjoy and learn about plants and conservation.

In a city is proud of its parks, Innis Wood is unique, offering solitude, peace, quiet, beauty, education and much more to its visitors.

The Sister’s Garden is a wonder of seven ecological-themed gardens including an entry garden, country garden, wetland, maze, woodland, turtle mound, and “The Secret Garden.” All designed to invite children’s curiosity; children of all ages engage in and marvel in nature.

The beauty of the cultivated gardens draws many to volunteer to work and learn, and photograph special events (spring and fall you find photography abounding, weddings, dances, families).  The quiet boardwalk is a contemplative path through forest and wetlands that bring peace to those seeking quiet in the midst of hustle and bustle.

The visit to this botanical garden lets you explore many different kinds of nature. The formal gardens allow one to appreciate the beauty of the cultivated world. The children’s play area is a great spot for the younger ones to get close to their environment. The longer paths through woods allow for time in a less controlled environment. In a way, one can experience so many of the different ways we connect with our natural world in this little gem in Westerville.


Site #9—-First Responder’s Park

Visitor informationfirst-respond

What you’ll find:

Westerville is a community that values those committed to the safety and well-being of its citizens.  Firefighter Tom Ullom had a dream to recognize our community’s and our nation’s First Responders. A piece of twisted steel from above where the plane struck on the North Tower of World Trade Center, and the sculpture, “The Crossing” depicting a firefighter crossing a threshold, remind all to act as first responders, move toward danger to help rather than run away.

The remembrance of 9/11 and the Firefighters Memorial in the shadow of the Fire Station, call to visitors to consider what they can do.  Tom Ullom’s 13 plus year journey, to ensure the reality of these memorials, provides a living commitment to our community’s call to action.


Site #10—-Astronaut Grove

Visitor informationastro

What you’ll find:

Astronaut Grove on Main Street in Westerville centers around the sculpture that honor the seven Challenger astronauts who lost their lives January 28, 1986.

With our multitude of parks, there are many designed for play and enjoying nature.  Astronaut Grove connects Westerville to our nation’s history in a different way.  Honoring the astronauts who have lost their lives in space accidents, the brick walk, flagpole, benches, and sculpture offers visitors space to recognize a part of our national heritage that is not part of everyday life.

The park is divided into three areas honoring the loss of past astronauts, the present Challenger disaster, and the future of our Space program represented by the sculpture “Reaching for the Stars”.  Poetry at the base of the statue and bronze stars representing astronauts who perished as part of the program, create a sense of connection for visitors.

Dedicated April 30, 1988, a little more than two years after the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, this quiet park off of West Main Street, is designed as a quiet contemplative place.  The opportunity to reflect and think about our place in the greater universe is a jewel within our community, helping us to live and appreciate our heritage.