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Published: Thursday, 6/14/2007

Pearson Plans taking shape for metropark's historic area

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Plans for the historic area on the northeast end of Pearson Metropark are under way, but not yet finalized.

Five design choices for the historic area were presented last week in conjunction with the Friends of Pearson meeting at the park's Packer-Hammersmith Center.

About 25 residents who attended the meeting were encouraged to give their opinions about alternatives presented by Russ Schifferly, project manager with the Metroparks' planning and construction department.

"It was a special meeting to put my advice and input in," Ginny Goldstein of East Toledo said.

So far, the historical area of the park, near Seaman and Wynn roads on the property's northeast corner, consists of a log cabin built in 1867.

Woodville resident Fred Johlin donated the cabin to the metropark to preserve its history. It's special because it's a piece of history that's intact and doesn't have to be reconstructed, metroparks officials said.

Additional plans for the historical area could include a barn, rest rooms, walkways, a wind barrier, a fire pit, an orientation kiosk, and a parking lot.

The configuration of those elements, depending on how many are desired, are up for discussion.

Mr. Schifferly presented five alternative plans that have been drawn up and asked the community which one it favored.

Most liked the first alternative, which included rest rooms, the cabin, benches, and the barn about equal distances away from each other arranged in a circular pattern with a separate path to and from the parking lot.

Ms. Goldstein, however, liked a combination of two other plans.

She wanted to see an orientation kiosk put on the second alternative, which depicts smaller pathways leading

around a large green space with separate paths going to the rest rooms and the barn.

"We could do a hybrid of all of these plans and use the improvements of each and create a new plan if we get enough feedback," Mr. Schifferly suggested.

In addition to verbal comments, he asked the community to fill out a multiple-choice survey to indicate the level of importance it felt on several issues.

The community felt it was most important that the barn be used as an overflow area for large groups of people unable to fit into the occupancy-limited cabin and for bad-weather circumstances.

They thought it was somewhat important to save a large open area to interpret Native American history and to provide a historic barn to interpret Great Black Swamp farming.

But most were neutral when it came to an orientation area situated near the entrance of the historical park area and whether modern conveniences, such as heating, air-conditioning, electricity, and water, should be built in the cabin to support multiple uses instead of having a historically accurate building.

Mr. Schifferly said the metroparks board could vote on a site plan as early as Wednesday.

A historical area has been planned for a portion of the 306 acres of land north of Starr Avenue adjacent to Pearson since metroparks officials bought the land in October, 2002.

The $2.05 million purchase nearly doubled the park's size to 626 acres. The Metroparks put up $1.23 million, with the remainder coming from a grant of $820,000 from the Clean Ohio Fund.

The newly acquired area is set to be 80 percent wetlands that will be developed with help from the Ohio Wetlands Foundation of Columbus.

Plans for the rest of the acreage could include an expanded picnic area, new parking areas for people who want to use the trail system, more trails, a bridge over the railroad tracks close to the Seaman Road overpass, mounding around the picnic areas, and tree buffers around the perimeter of the park.



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