Hamilton's Park in Foster


Pictured is an areal photo of the Meldahl Hydroelectric Power Plant and the park area adjacent to the facility. PROVIDED
Hamilton Journal News
By Michael D. Pitman
March 21, 2023
Of the city’s 42 park areas, only 41 are within Hamilton’s city limits.
That 42nd park, which is not associated with the Hamilton Parks Conservancy that manages the city’s parks, was created close to a decade ago and is about an hour-plus drive south to a small unincorporated river town north of Augusta, Kentucky, that has fewer residents than most neighborhoods in Hamilton.

But it is also home to the Meldahl Hydroelectric Facility on West Mary Ingles Highway and is known to be a primo fishing spot, said Edwin Porter, Hamilton’s director of Infrastructure. “Yeah, me and my wife and our kids went fishing down there and we enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s an extremely popular fishing spot on the Ohio River, mainly because of its access.”

The reason Hamilton has a park in Foster, Kentucky, is because of federal requirements when the city partnered with American Municipal Power to build the Meldahl Hydroelectric Plant, which opened in 2016. Porter said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requires, as part of the licensing, projects to have a recreation plan. The city filed its recreation plan in July 2009, which outlined the construction, operation, and maintenance of the facilities. This included an access road and parking area to a recreation area complete with restrooms and pier access at the Big Snag Creek sandbar. Also included is a picnic area, a walking path and shoreline access.

The Meldahl Hydroelectric Facility is a joint venture between the city of Hamilton and the non-profit corporation AMP, which serves a consortium of electric-generating and/or distributing cities in several states, including Ohio. Hamilton is a founding member of AMP.
Hamilton receives 51.4% of all energy produced at Meldahl and 47 other cities throughout AMP’s membership receive the remaining 48.6%. Hamilton also employs the people that operate and maintain the Foster plant.

Through the FERC licensing process, the Hamilton and AMP collaborated with local, state, and federal agencies to develop the recreation plan for the site, which included the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Department of Natural Resources, State Nature Preserves, Wildlife Management Areas, and State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

The plant was constructed to continue to provide the city with green, sustainable energy as Hamilton owns and operates all of the city’s utilities. The 105-megawatt plant produces around 558,000 kilowatts of energy annually, which is equivalent to supplying electricity to 55,000 homes in a year. Combined with more than half of the electricity produced at the Kentucky plant, the city also receives 51.4% of the power produced by its Greenup Hydroelectric Plant in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, a 70.27-megawatt plant. Hamilton also operates a 2-megawatt plant in the city, which has been a hydroelectric plant since 1919.

For any Hamiltonian looking to complete a tour of the 42 city parks, it’s about a 75-minute journey south to the Meldahl park, a 30-acre area that opened in 2017.