Park Timeline


PPG Closes

Pittsburgh Plate Glass closes its Mount Vernon facility in 1976. Many families leave the community to find other work.

The PPG Plant

Initial Acreage Purchase

Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County provides $151,000 grant to City of Mount Vernon to finance the majority of initial 86-acre Foundation Park acquisition on the former Goodwin Sand and Gravel site.

Clean Ohio Grant

City of Mount Vernon awarded Clean Ohio grant to purchase additional Kokosing riverfront acreage, including western-most lake and access via Harcourt Road (SR 36).

FPC Formed

Mayor Richard Mavis encourages creation of Foundation Park Conservancy (FPC) to establish and execute a vision for the Park. Planning meetings commence and the vision for Foundation Park expands after committee's site visit to Mill Race Park in Columbus, IN.


Purchase of Right-of-Way for Bike Trails

Community Foundation awards grant to City to purchase major segment of right-of-way, adjacent to Foundation Park that will be needed to link Heart of Ohio Trail with Kokosing Gap Trail.


Van Valkenburg Delivers Potential Plan

Ariel Corporation provides $80,000 in funding to Conservancy to commission a master plan for the Park by renowned landscape architects Van Valkenburg and Associates of New York City and Boston. Van Valkenburg delivers stunning but impractical blueprint estimates to cost more than $30 million.

Schnormeier and Stoviceck On Board

Ted Schnormeier offers to develop and execute an alternative development plan for Foundation Park with the assistance of Schnormeier Gardens collaborator Bob Stoviceck. Quiet negotiations to acquire 75-acre former Pittsburgh Plate Glass site begin, following receipt of $1.75 million grant commitment from The Ariel Foundation.


Negotiations with PPG Continue

Conservancy receives confirmation from ODNR that riverfront elements, central to the Van Valkenburg blueprint, would violate existing conservation easements. Negotiations with multiple PPG mortgage-holders bog down; but FPC continues to focus on a comprehensive plan that would incorporate the upper level former PPG site, including the (then) impenetrable wooded area adjacent to the southern bank of the central lake. FPC board is advised in December by board member and attorney Kim Rose that the PPG purchase is imminent.
February 2013

Acquisition Complete; Demolition Begins

Acquisition of the former PPG site concluded on Valentine's Day 2013, enlarging the park lands to approximately 200 acres. Demolition contract with Nick Wall signed within days, providing FPC more than $500,000 for rights to salvage material from site.

Demolition of the old PPG site
April 2013

Restoration of Depot Commences

Work on CA&C Depot commences in April after Station Break Senior Citizens program vacates the building. Members of the community, the Community Foundation, and The Ariel Foundation provide support for the restoration phases.

Restoration of the Depot begins. Shown here is the ticket booth.
May 2013

Park Officially Named

In May, FPC votes to officially rename the total area under development "Ariel-Foundation Park" in recognition of the major funding commitment for the former PPG site acquisition and development of the Park by The Ariel Foundation and the Knox County Foundation.

Entrance sign and sculpture to the Park
Summer 2013

Clearing of Woods Begins

Major clearing of "The Woods" area begins, including establishments of a roadway linking the upper former PPG site and older established "Lakes" are of the Park.

Clearing of The Woods begins
August 2013

Development Subcommitee Forms

In August, a development subcommitee of the FPC is named, under the co-chairmanship of Melanie Bolender and Joel Daniels. The subcommittee also included Jeffrey Boucher, Kim Rose, Michael Percy, Sam Barone, and Clinton Bailey.
Fall 2013

Pavilions Built in Lakes Area

Fall 2013 sees the erection of seven new pavilions in the "Lakes" area; the demolition of the former PPG site nearly complete, the digging of two lakes and construction of the first of three terraces, and improvements to the southern border of the PPG site, including the planting of more than 100 trees along the roadway.

Aerial view of The Lakes area of the Park
Late Fall 2013

Fundraising Continues

Fundraising is progressing well during fall of 2013 with commitments of more than $1.5 million toward the $2.5 million Ariel match secured.
Year End 2013

Phoenix Bowstring Truss Bridge in Place

As year-end 2013 approaches, the Phoenix Bowstring Truss Bridge is in place in the "Lakes" area and the first of several hundred large caliper trees have been planted on the original Foundation Park acreage. Hundreds of tons of large rock are also adding interest to the terrain, and shoring up the banks of the central lake and the isthmus connecting the so-called "Wedding Island" to the "Woods" area.
May 2014

CA&C Depot Dedicated

The CA&C Depot, including the William Stroud Visitors Center, is dedicated on May 2.

Dedication of the CA&C Railroad Depot
July 2014

Bridge Dedicated; FPC Hands Over Lakes, Woods to City

On July 3, the City dedicates the restored Phoenix Bowstring Truss Bridge and the Conservancy "hands-off" the renovated Lakes area and the new Woods area of the Park to the City.

Phoenix Bowstring Truss Bridge
August 2014

Rastin Makes Commitment for Tower

At an August 2014 recognition event for major donors, Ted Schnormeier asks Tom Rastin to consider a $1 million gift for the proposed spiral staircase and observation deck around the iconic PPG smokestack. Rastin agrees and the project is scheduled for completion, in time for the grand opening on July 4, 2015.

Stairs being installed at Rastin Observation Tower
Fall 2014

Grant Helps City Purchase Additional Acreage

City receives a Clean Ohio grant to purchase additional 25 acres in west Foundation Park area, south of the Park's western-most lake.
October 2014

FPC Announces Naming of Mavis Island

On October 27, Conservancy announces to City Council that a generous contribution from Karen Buchwald Wright has enabled the naming of the island in the central lake "Mavis Island" in honor of the Mayor's "indispensable role" in the Park's creation.

Mavis Island
Spring 2015

Park Projects Continue

Despite an exceptionally wet spring, final grading and seeding of terraces proceeds, the Lucerne Road Bridge is installed, critical acreage is acquired for a roadway linking west Foundation Park and the former PPG site along the western bank of the central lake, the Tree of Life Labyrinth is completed, as is work on the Urton Clock House, Community Foundation Pavilion and adjacent picnic pavilion, and the Schnormeier Event Center.

Park Construction
July 4, 2015

Grand Opening

Day-long grand opening festivities featuring three concerts and a laser light show, and culminating in fireworks, attract an estimated 10,000 guests to Ariel-Foundation Park.

Fireworks and Rastin Tower at the Grand Opening

Park Info



 Ariel-Foundation Park, located in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is a 250-acre civic park that offers a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors of all ages.

Visiting Hours

Ariel-Foundation Park is officially open April 1 through November 15. Some areas of the park are accessible to pedestrians year-round. Daily hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. There are no admissions or parking fees. The Rastin Observation Tower, park museum, picnic pavillions, trails and other park features are free and open to the public. The Rastin Observation Tower is open during winter months, as long as weather allows.

Contact Us

Foundation Park Conservancy
P.O. Box 644, Mount Vernon, OH 43050
[email protected]

Mount Vernon City Parks Department
1700 Old Delaware Road, Mount Vernon, OH 43050
[email protected]

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