Revitalizing the Ohio River Way: The Milton Project

Revitalizing the Ohio River Way: The Milton Project Main Photo

7 Mar 2024

To invigorate regional development and bolster economic opportunities, the Department of Landscape Architecture in the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, Kentucky,  embarked on an ambitious endeavor known as the Ohio River Way Studio project. This innovative initiative aims to harness the potential of the Ohio River Valley, promoting tourism, fostering education, and stimulating economic vitality.

Bridging Past, Present, and Future

At the heart of the Ohio River Way Studio project lies a deep commitment to understanding the cultural and historical significance of the region. Drawing inspiration from Harlan Hubbard's concept of "a river way of living," students immersed themselves in the Milton and Trimble County communities. Through site visits, interviews with locals, and river exploration, they gained invaluable insights into the area's rich heritage and natural beauty.

Designing for Sustainable Progress

With a profound understanding of the land, waterways, and people, students embarked on a journey of creative imagination and design innovation. They were divided into teams and conceived four distinct projects to revitalize Milton and Trimble County. From green spaces to market districts, each proposal was meticulously crafted to promote sustainability, inclusivity, and economic prosperity.

Showcasing Visionary Solutions

The culmination of months of research and design, the Ohio River Way Studio project showcases the visionary solutions devised by undergraduate students. Projects like "The Blue Green Way" and "Milton Market District" offer tantalizing glimpses into a future where community engagement, environmental stewardship, and economic development converge seamlessly.

A Conversation with Trimble County Judge-Executive John David Ogburn Jr.

In an insightful interview, John David Ogburn Jr., Trimble County Judge Executive, sheds light on the transformative collaboration between the college and the local community in Milton. The project's primary focus is to breathe life back into the Milton Riverfront area, a community struggling economically since the outsourcing of tobacco production. “The primary focus is to get people to be active and utilize the riverfront for their activities after they get off work or on the weekends. We also want to attract others from the surrounding areas to come and visit so that our businesses can prosper and we can add more population to the county by people wanting to relocate here after visiting,” Ogburn says.

The overarching goal is to make the riverfront a vibrant hub, enticing locals and visitors to engage in recreational activities and fostering a sense of community. Ogburn emphasizes the need to get people active after work or on weekends, attracting visitors to boost local businesses and potentially draw new residents.

Delving into the community impact, Ogburn envisions improved quality of life in Trimble County. Adding outdoor activities, a fresh food market, and environmental enhancements are poised to promote healthier living, community bonding, and economic prosperity. The plans encompass biking and hiking trails, kayaking, and canoeing on the river, appealing to residents from both Kentucky and Indiana.
Ogburn commends their thorough engagement with community stakeholders, highlighting the collaboration with students, ensuring inclusivity, and addressing various needs. The students' multifaceted approach, including considerations for potential flooding and economic viability, underscores their commitment to a holistic and sustainable vision for the riverfront.

Looking towards the future, Ogburn outlines plans for long-term sustainability. Collaborations with private investors, government agencies, and local industries are underway to secure funding for the project's phased development. The focus will be on critical areas such as the amphitheater for concerts and the farmer's market, with attention to infrastructure improvements to ensure seamless integration.

Charting a Course for Tomorrow

As the Ohio River Way Studio project garners accolades and attention, it serves as a beacon of hope for Milton and Trimble County communities. By fostering collaboration between academia, industry, and local stakeholders, this initiative paves the way for a brighter, more prosperous future along the banks of the Ohio River. As we look ahead, let us draw inspiration from the students' bold vision and unwavering dedication to building a better tomorrow.

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