East Muskingum Park: Marietta space a favorite among walkers, brides, etc.

It has seen its fair share of presidents, Revolutionary War types, brides and grooms and even countless dogs, runners, walkers and bicyclists.

East Muskingum Park, along Front Street in Marietta, features a gazebo, the Start Westward monument, a portion of the River Trail and plenty of benches.

Kara Watters, 19, of Woodsfield, comes to the park about two times per week when she isn’t busy with her studies at Washington State Community College.

“It’s a nice place to walk,” Watters said.

The River Trail begins at Indian Acres Park, includes East Muskingum Park and continues downtown, along the Muskingum and Ohio rivers.

The park is a peaceful spot, with plenty of grassy areas and trees.

However, Franklin Dennis will say one thing is missing – a restroom.

“We need a restroom here,” said Dennis, 78, of Reno. “I don’t think they’ll build a restroom. The river comes up in here.”

East Muskingum Park is part of the city’s 28 parks and parklets. The park can even claim a rich past when it comes to visitors from the White House.

Mt. Rushmore’s Gutzon Borglum sculpted the Start Westward Monument for Marietta’s sesquicentennial. In 1961, the central figure lost his head, and Fred Mitchum, of Beverly, carved a replacement. President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the monument in 1938. President William Howard Taft spoke in the park in May 1910. President Theodore Roosevelt delivered a short speech in May 1912.

Most recently, Marietta City Council approved installation of electrical service at a cost of $12,000. The project was finished just in time for the Sweet Corn Festival that began its two-day run July 19.

Harley Noland, D-At-large, Marietta City Council member and chairman of council’s Lands, Parks and Buildings Committee, said he would like that project to continue.

“I would like to see another power outlet farther upstream of the Start Westward Monument,” Noland said. “A number of trees have died in the past year. We have to look at to the Tree Commission for money to replant some of those.”

While all the big events for East Muskingum Park are finished for the year, Noland said he has been talking to a recently established Shakespeare group. Noland said he hopes to have a Shakespeare in the Park event in 2014.

“The park is rented a lot,” said Mary Grubert, clerk for Mayor Joe Matthews. She also is in charge of renting the gazebo for weddings.

“There are a number of walks and runs and other little celebrations,” she said.

During May through September, at least three of the four Saturdays each month are rented for weddings. Grubert said the city charges only $25 as a service to the bride and groom. The wedding party also typically has the gazebo for the day before for a rehearsal.