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A new inclusive playground is latest addition to the evolving South Clarksville

New playground equipment is pictured against a river.
Town of Clarksville
Clarksville officials will hold a grand opening this month for a new inclusive playground in Ashland Park.

Clarksville will soon celebrate the opening of a new, accessible playground in Ashland Park along the Ohio River. It’s part of overarching development plans for the area, which include the buildout of a new downtown.

A new brightly colored playground overlooking the Ohio River in Clarksville aims to be a fun, inclusive place at the edge of the burgeoning new downtown.

The new equipment provides multiple access points for children with differing abilities, like a ramp for kids who use a wheelchair or walker. A grand opening is scheduled for July 10, and town officials hope it’s one of many steps that demonstrate South Clarksville’s draw.

The new playground replaces equipment that dates back to the 1990s. Clarksville Town Manager Kevin Baity said it was time to replace the aging previous playground with a space that would be more welcoming.

“As we build out the South Clarksville area, we want it to be an all-inclusive area,” Baity said.

That inclusivity is paramount. A 2018 poll by the National Recreation and Park Association showed nearly 90% of participants believed it was important to have inclusive play options in their communities.

There are still some finishing touches needed, including sidewalks. The nearly $300,000 project includes demolition of the old playground, installation of the new one, replacement of mulch and new turf surfacing. There will also be a long stone wall that will serve as a bench and a barrier between the playground and a multi-use path in the park.

The project is paid for largely through a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, according to a news release.

The new amenity is one of the most recent advancements in the ongoing redevelopment of the South Clarksville area.

Riverside Drive, where the park is located, is in the midst of a roughly yearlong reconstruction. It’s expected to be finished by next spring.

Improvements include an overhaul of the roadway starting just west of the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, with the addition of lights, benches, sidewalks and on-street parking.

Once it’s finished, drivers will be able to use it to access Main Street, which includes developments Bolt+Tie, a mixed-use residential, retail and office space, and Current812, a luxury apartment building including townhomes. The street has a view of the iconic Colgate clock.

Denton-Floyd Real Estate Group, which is responsible for Current812, also has other plans in the area, including a hotel next to that development, according to a town spokesperson Ken Conklin.

The hotel coincides with a recommendation last year by SoIN Tourism for a conference center, following a feasibility study on the Southern Indiana area best suited for it.

The conference center is planned to be in the northwestern most corner of the new downtown Clarksville area. Baity said town officials are still working with SoIn Tourism to finalize where things will be at the site. Then they’ll bring in a consultant to advise on the next steps in the project.

After being selected, Baity said town officials started moving toward the buildout of streets leading up to the center. That construction is being paid for in part by the first round of READI funds. Baity said they will apply for the next round; that would allow for the complete buildout of streets accessing the center. Baity said officials will soon start looking for a consultant to create a master plan for the redesign of Ashland Park itself, which the town bought last year.

He said that the planning process will include opportunities for public input, “so that it's not an ordinary park for the area, but it's a park that meets the needs of the area,” he said.

Baity said he hopes to have that person hired by the end of the year.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec Inc., the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation, and the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County. 

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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