DAYTON — A delegation of city of Sidney officials attended Ohio’s Great Outdoor River Summit Friday, March 18, at the University of Dayton River Campus. The ninth annual event was attended by approximately 400 river enthusiasts, including Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst, 4th Ward City Councilman Steve Wagner, City Manager Mark Cundiff and Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier.
Both Gaier and Wagner attended attended a session entitled Economic Development Along Our Rivers. The session provided concrete examples of how cities along the river have used their riverfronts as vibrant and welcoming public spaces. Speakers included Hamilton Director of Economic Development Jody Gunderson, Troy Assistant Director of Recreation Carrie Slater, Dayton Director of Special Projects Amy Walbridge, Miller-Valentine Vice President of Urban Development David Williams and Gamble Associates Principal David Gamble.
Barhorst attended a session entitled Signage and Wayfinding. The session featured a number of speakers who discussed the value of signage for communities in providing distinct connections between the river, the river corridor assets and the community. Speakers included Studio Graphique Managing Principal Cathy Fromet, Miami Conservancy District Special Projects Coordinator Angela Manuszak, Bike Miami Valley Program Manager Emmy Fabich and Kolar Design Chief Creative Officer Kelly Kolar.
Cundiff attended a session entitled What’s next for water? The session was a facilitated discussion that explored the potential synergies among institutions, organizations, groups, companies and individuals to protect, promote and leverage the value of water for the region.
During lunch, Ohio’s Great Corridor Association President Stan Kegley presented the annual Corridor Champion of the Year Award to longtime advocate for the river to Dusty Hall, Director of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education. It was also announced that for the first time ever, a second Corridor Champion of the Year Award would be presented to University of Dayton President Dr. Daniel J. Currin. Currin’s award will be presented later as he was in Saint Louis watching the Flyers play in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
The day’s keynote speaker was Ethan Kent. Kent is the Senior Vice President of Project for Public Spaces (PPS). Kent works to support placemaking organizations, projects and leadership around the world. During his more than 17 years at PPS, Ethan has traveled to more than 750 cities and 55 countries to advance the cause of placemaking and public spaces. Kent has been integral to the development of placemaking as a transformative approach to economic development, environmentalism, transportation planning, governance, resilience, equity and design.
Having worked on over 200 PPS projects, Ethan has led a broad spectrum of placemaking efforts, providing comprehensive public engagement, planning and visioning for many important public spaces. Highlights have included: Times Square in New York; Kennedy Plaza in Providence, RI; Pompey Square, Nassau, Bahamas; Garden Place in Hamilton, New Zealand; and, Sub Centro Las Condes in Santiago, Chile. He has also worked with some of the most high profile developments in the world to help maximize public space outcomes in Hong Kong, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Auckland, Parramatta and Sao Paulo.
Utilizing lessons learned through his project work, Kent discussed the value of cities having at least ten places to visit. In addition, cities also need at least ten things to do if they are going to attract not only visitors, but new residents. He suggested that cities should lead with their public spaces, and stated that public art attracts people but more than that, people attract other people.
The final session of the day was Placemaking in the Great Miami River Corridor. The session provided the opportunity for those attending the River Summit to learn more about the brand development process. Studio Graphique Managing Principal Cathy Fromet worked with participants to provide input for the River Corridor Association as it develops its brand.
“The River Summit is an initiative that links cities, suburbs, agricultural communities, statewide groups and a broad range of citizens to develop a regional strategy that is intended to make the most of our shared assets,” Barhorst said. “This is the first time I have attended the River Summit. I was surprised by the broad range of topics and interests represented.”