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Limestone Quarry Will Get Second Life As Newest Columbus Metro Park

A former limestone quarry along the Scioto River, just west of US-33, will be the site of the newest Columbus and Franklin County Metro Park. But for the first time, Metro Parks will develop the park in collaboration with a private company.

Standing next to a 25-foot-tall waterfall, Metro Parks executive director Tim Maloney says the quarry has a long history in Central Ohio, though many parts of it no longer look like its industrial past.

"This quarry's been around since the 1800s," Maloney says. "The rocks that were pulled out of here built everything from the basement of your house now to the Statehouse to Ohio Stadium."

In the southern portion, Maloney says he doesn't believe there's been any coring work done since at least the early 1940s.

"Mother Nature's really taken hold, and she's started to come back and have the flora and fauna you'd expect in northwest Franklin County 100-150 years ago, before we started to really develop," he says.

Before the city's 20th park is ready for the public, though, Metro Parks still needs to acquire the land. The private development company Wagenbrenner will purchase the 607-acre stretch from its current owner, with plans to turn much of it into a mixed commercial and residential property.

Credit Clare Roth
Tim Maloney, executive director of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, says the park will offer mountain biking as well as water activities.

Metro Parks will buy from Wagenbrenner some 260 acres of that land to create the park, which still needs to be designed and constructed.

"In Central Ohio, this is going to be something unprecedented where we've got a large residential development right in the heart of a Metro Park," Maloney says.

He says this is part of a national trend of public-private partnerships, in part because of the value of that land - and the cost-savings to the park system.

"These new half-million people that are moving to Central Ohio, they don't want to live in the outlying counties," Maloney says. "They want to live in the urban core."

Maloney says he expects the park to offer a number of water activities in its lake, along with mountain biking, rock climbing and rappelling. It's expected to open in two to three years.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.