Outlines of retail building foundations and a parking lot are all that remains of the Forest Park shopping center on North Main Street in Harrison Township. County Corp, in partnership with Harrison Township and Montgomery County will facilitate the first public meeting to initiate feedback on the Forest Park Area Plan on Monday, January 29th at Horizon Science Academy. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Eyesore no more? 4 big-picture proposals for long-ago amusement park site

The public got a look Thursday night at several redevelopment plan options for a 54-acre tract of Harrison Twp. that once thrived as a center of amusement, then as a shopping center that declined in recent decades and saw its buildings leveled more recently.

Four big-picture proposals for the Forest Park site offered broad themes in which different aspects of each would likely find a way into a final plan, said Joe Nickol, who worked on the proposals for MKSK Studios.

RELATED: Forest Park: From zoo to amusement park to shopping center

The first concept focused on creating a town square and relocating the Harrison Twp. Government Center to the site. Other alternatives included turning the site into an advanced manufacturing and research center, an adventure recreation site like one in New Jersey where ordinary people can operate heavy equipment. A fourth plan shows the area’s focus turned to agricultural research and small-batch processing.

The alternatives also included new housing units as well as roadway changes that would calm traffic and add more pedestrian and bike paths to connect with the existing trail system.

Residents weighed in on the plans by placing stickers on large drawings. Carolyn Woodley, a Harrison Twp. resident for 15 years, put her blue stickers on her top priorities. Like many residents, she was attracted to elements from different proposals.

“I like the town center as part of the development,” said Woodley, 69. “I was also very interested in the conversation about advanced manufacturing. The industries and the businesses around here cannot find enough people. There are plenty of jobs but there’s not enough people who are trained in the types of industries where there’s a need.”

RELATED: Owner pursuing development plans for old strip mall

About 50 people attended the meeting at the Horizon Science Academy to discuss the site along North Main Street that has been in limbo for years.

“I’ve been working on this project for about 18 years with the property owner and we’ve had challenges and we’ve had victories,” said Kris McClintick, the township administrator. “We’re excited about the turnout of the community.”

Ideas for the potential scenarios were generated at an initial Jan. 29 community meeting.

MKSK Studios, the consultants out of Covington, Ky., will now fine-tune the plan for County Corp, working in partnership with Harrison Twp. and Montgomery County.

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