An Essay About What Loveland Has Become
by David Miller, Loveland Magazine Publisher
These LOVELAND MAGAZINE HD VIDEOS are from the July 24 meeting of Loveland’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), the quazi-government entity principally charge with development in the City.
Barry Strum, presented a summary of a report he prepared for the City on re-development of the Loveland Madeira Road business district and specifically what is called the Chestnut Street Property. He went further however, to tie it all in with Historic Downtown. The Chestnut Street Property is a tax payer owned 11-acres, behind Ken Marcott’s Auto Service, the single family homes on Main Street, and the railroad tracks along East Kemper Road.
I was compelled to talk to Strum after he made his presentation, so introduced myself before he left City Hall. We chatted briefly, mostly Strum chatting. He was eager to continue expressing his vision for Loveland’s future. He knows our town. He knows it pretty well for someone who doesn’t live here, however he has visited often over the past several years; running and biking on the trail for three decades, occasionally spending the night fishing.
When I finally seized an opening, I told him about a vision I have had for fifteen years, one that has expanded to include inspirations from Historic Downtown, business owner, Fran Hendrick.
My original inspiration was however from a neighbor Chris Springborn who moved next door about fifteen years ago. Springborn told me why he, and his wife and young child moved into town. They only lived a few miles on our outskirts in Deerfield Township, but Springborn wanted to be closer to the heart of it all, especially our National and State Scenic Little Miami River. Springborn was what you would called an avid fly fisher, hunting small mouth bass in the river, or its smaller tributary, O’Bannon Creek. They now live 1,000 feet from the fish.
Springborn once woke me at 1 o’clock in the morning pounding on the bedroom window three feet from my pillow.
“Get out here. I want to show you something. Hurry. Get up. I want you to see something.”
Bending from the waist, rising to where I could peek through the blinds, I honestly thought a Martian saucer, or at least a piece of green, glowing, space junk had landed in the yard between our houses. Seeing nothing but a frantic and animated neighbor; I pulled jeans on and stumbled outside.
“Dave, get your camera. I’ve landed the biggest catfish I’ve ever seen. I got it to shore, but we have to hurry and get its picture before it dies.”
We went to a muddy shore on the other side of town where tracks of the cat fish scarred the smooth sand where Springborn had pushed the fish with both hands - about fifteen feet up the bank.
Photo taken. Hook removed. The 45-pounder pushed back to the cool water. Chris gave assurances. But, I doubted its survival.
Springborn said, “David, Loveland is like living in a resort.”
I said, “Chris, a resort is where you can expect a peaceful night’s sleep.”
The resort description however, was superglued in my mind since. I imagined visitors and town folk alike entering our community knowing they had arrived - because the sign at the city limits said, “Welcome to the Resort of Loveland”. It was a wooden sign, stained a very dark shade of brown. The letters were routed into rough, hand hewn, thick pine planks, and they glistened a very vivid yellow – just like entering a national park. All of the municipal signs were that way; street signs, directional signs, signs at major waterways, the museum, the bike trail; and of course, all of our numerous parks had similar national park like signs.
To visitors, it was a welcome that they have entered a peaceful, serene, river valley for recreation and renewal.
To homeowners, “Ahh... home; I live in a resort.”
Hendrick said a while back that Loveland, especially the Historic Downtown, is already what it is, “A self development place”. Actually, Hendrick’s counseling business is so named. “The Self Development Place.”
Hendrick said to look around. “There’s the Loveland Music Academy and the Sandbox Learning Center out my front window.” I did as she suggested. Just up the street is Whistle Stop Clay Works where you can transform dirt into objects of art. Pizazz has creative art classes and summer camps. Want to learn about the natural environment, attend lectures, go to nature classes? Check out the Little Miami Scenic River and Trail Visitors Center,
Is your self development in improving your physical self? Look at all the young and old; cycling, rollorblading, running, and strolling on the Loveland Trail. Notice the ancillary businesses established around fitness; Montgomery Cyclerly, Bob Ronker’s Running Spot. There’s Loveland Fitness - Live Fit, Loveland Bike Rental and Loveland Canoe and Kayak. And, places to eat a fine meal.
Is your self improvement about the soul, or more pensive? There’s even more for you; the William Schickel Gallery, The Loveland Music Center, and the Loveland Stage Company where they have adult theater productions and teach the young to act, sing, and dance.
Improve your diet by visiting the Loveland Farmers Market on Tuesdays. Vibe Nutrition offers wellness, diet, and nutrition classes and products. Walk up Loveland Avenue heading East and find Grailville, on 300 organic, acres of poetry, spirituality, healing, and self discovery.
Stroll two blocks west over the Col. Thomas Paxton Bridge for fine art and classes and you will see Dierdre Dyson’s Art House II, the Loveland Artists Studios on Main, and Yily’s For the Love of Art. You will also discover in these three blocks; Loveland Message Center, The Quilter’s Studio, and Healing Touch Wellness & Chiropractic Centre.
Hendrick, a Landon resident, this week, further defined Loveland as a whole. She said, “Loveland is a haven for family fun and personal growth.”
I say, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and say, ya know, I think ya outa be a unicorn. Loveland is what it is. Every morning you will find people young and not so young; testing their physical endurance, walking with their best friend, clearing the soul looking for life’s answers, teaching their young children about nature on our trail. Later in the day they will be in the self-improvement places. Before dusk they will hit the trail again for renewal after work.
If you just need solitude, we’ve got plenty of riverbank to sit on.
“Haven” and “sanctuary” are words Hendrick used this week to describe our town, and she just returned from a seaside vacation.
Don’t think these self improvement places are an economic generator? Go ask the dad who just took his daughter for music lessons and stayed to eat lunch or dinner in one of restaurants. Talk to those eating breakfast in downtown on a Sunday morning and you might find that they didn’t come to “bike” today, just eat and shop. Ask some patrons who they are and they just might tell you they work at one of the self improvement places two buildings away.
Loveland is what its become today because our river was designated a National and State Scenic River, through efforts of state and national river protection organizations; Loveland folks had not a lot to do with it. The Little Miami is now full of river enthusiasts throughout the summer; fishing canoeing, swimming, skipping rocks, or just turning them over for a discovery.
Another bit of happenstance is that the development of the Little Miami State Park began here. It is a 50-mile corridor park. Construction along the abandoned railway began in Loveland. We were using the trail for biking, walking, and running before most knew it was going to be built.
The trailhead for many years was our Historic Downtown. I believe all transformation since is the result of our good luck, and re-develoment has occurred to accommodate this good fortune. This trail and river are the very essence of the community’s economic fabric and vitality. This recreation paved the way for the natural progression of other forms of individual self development and renewal, now so prevalent and reflected in the current business community.
The signs in my eye now read, “Welcome to the Resort of Loveland - The Self Development Place”. Hendrick said it should say, “Welcome to Loveland - Haven for Family Fun and Personal Growth.”
I like that even better.
Strum prepared his report on behalf of the Hamilton County Economic Development Office. It was prepared at no cost to City taxpayers, and I believe for the first time is a realistic, unbiased, honest look at who we really are.
Strum’s report is also very refreshing because it goes beyond a discussion of business areas on the West of the Little Miami River to discuss Historic Downtown and just how any development or redevelopment in either place, are intrinsically tied together.
Strum said that the first thing that needs to be done “to give redevelopment traction” is to define what is the real attraction in Loveland.
I don’t want to take away from Strum’s vision or reinterpret what he said. Watch these videos - you will, no doubt, begin dreaming too. If you also have a vision of what Loveland is or could be more of - check yours against his. And, share it.
These videos, although the total length is about 33-minutes, are broken into 8-minute segments - and can be watched as time allows, I do hope many business stakeholders, taxpayers, and residents watch them and discuss this important message.
I do think that the Planning and Zoning Commission, who was not invited to this important CIC meeting, should put watching these videos on their agenda as soon as possible. Strum’s written report is available to them, but I think his verbal presentation covers much more.
Download Strum’s report: Download Chestnut Street Report