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The Start Westward Monument, designed by the same artist who sculpted Mount Rushmore, is the centerpiece of the Muskingum Park.

It’s a beautiful park already, and we want to make sure to preserve the rich history of the region and make the park a convenient and engaging destination for generations to come.

The city of Marietta, Ohio, has contracted with Woolpert to provide landscape architecture, engineering, planning and design services for the restoration and renovation of Muskingum Park, which houses the Start Westward Monument, and the adjacent Museum District. The multiphase project supports the city’s vision to enhance the park’s amenities, aesthetics and accessibility, while preserving its place in history.

Marietta is the oldest city in Ohio, established in 1788. The Start Westward Monument honors the pioneers who settled in Marietta and began the nation’s expansion into the Northwest Territory. The monument was designed by Gutzon Borglum, who sculpted the presidential busts on Mount Rushmore, and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938.

“Borglum used granite for Mount Rushmore and used sandstone for Start Westward, and it’s not weathering well,” Woolpert Senior Landscape Architect Bruce Rankin said. “The monument has immense historical significance, and the site is being considered as a national monument. Our design will be compatible with National Park Service guidelines, enhance the overall character of the park and retain the amenities beloved by the region.”

The Start Westward Monument is the centerpiece of the Muskingum Park. The city owns the park, and the U.S. Department of the Interior owns the land beneath the monument and the four sandstone pylons at each end of the park. Woolpert will provide the overall master plan for improvements to the park and immediate area, including the monument, the adjacent streetscape, parking and lighting. The renovation will improve access to the park, the Museum District and the regional trail system.

The first phase of the project is underway, and a temporary cover will soon be placed over the monument to protect it from the elements. The first phase will focus on improving accessibility and safety, designing roadway and sidewalk improvements in accordance with Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) standards, expanding parking, replacing curbs and ramps, installing and upgrading period lighting, designing a restroom facility, designing specifications for wayfinding signage, and ensuring the site is compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design.

Woolpert Transportation Engineer Paul Denny, who is managing the project with Rankin, said improving access for people and vehicles is key to the community’s enjoyment of the park.

“The park hosts classic car shows, and it’s difficult for the low riders to get into the park due to the steepness of the existing drive and embankment,” Denny said. “We’re looking at everything about the park, seeing what needs to be done and soliciting input from the community. It’s a beautiful park already, and we want to make sure to preserve the rich history of the region and make the park a convenient and engaging destination for generations to come.”

Additional phases of the project include renovating the park’s gazebo and widening and resurfacing trails, as well as possibly constructing a building around the monument.

Marietta City Engineer Joseph Tucker said the city appreciates Woolpert’s experience and expertise across multiple aspects of engineering, architecture and park development.

“Having a firm that understands the full scope of a project and can bring multiple, cohesive solutions to the table is invaluable,” Tucker said. “This project is significant for the region, and we are pleased it is in very capable hands.”

At least two public meetings will be held this year to solicit community feedback; one likely at the end of March, and the other in late August. Plans are scheduled to be submitted in March 2021, with construction to begin in mid-2021.

About Woolpert
Woolpert is committed to a vision to become the premier architecture, engineering and geospatial (AEG) firm, and one of the best companies in the country. It’s a vision we’ve been fine-tuning for decades. It guides our decisions and investments, provides our clients with optimal solutions and offers our employees unrivaled opportunities. Woolpert is recognized as a Great Place to Work by its employees and is America’s fastest-growing AEG firm. With more than a century of experience, close to 1,000 employees and 30 offices, Woolpert supports public, private, federal, and U.S. military clients nationally and around the globe. For more information, visit woolpert.com and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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