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Nearly $2 million worth of improvements to downtown’s Promenade Park got under way Wednesday as the second phase to Mayor Mike Bell’s plan to transform the green space with walkways and recreational areas.
With renderings at his side and a solitary excavator moving in the distance, Mayor Bell announced the new segment of construction during a morning news conference at the park.
“This is one of the quality-of-life issues we have been talking about,” Mayor Bell said.
In 2012, a month after Toledo City Council ended opposition to the mayor’s plan to revitalize the park, the renovation got under way. The first phase began on July 9, 2012, with workers hauling huge amounts of soil to the old Federal Building site adjacent to Promenade Park and the nearby former Toledo Edison steam plant. Workers on earth movers sculpted the grounds to elevate the site, filled in Water Street next to it, and connected the land with the current Promenade Park site along the Maumee River.
Phase one cost $386,000.
The second phase will cost taxpayers more than $1.96 million. It will include improving an area close to Summit Street with new curbs, a new median, parallel parking, low landscape planters with benches, brick pavers, specialty finish concrete, trees, retail carts, steps, a garden, and seating. General contractor Rudolph/Libbe Inc. won the job with the lowest bid.
Lowell Metzger, contracts manager for Rudolph/Libbe, said phase two would be completed by June so the park would be ready for July 4, 2014, events.
The mayor actually first released details of the second phase in February.
The price tag for the final phase — the most expensive with a planned stage, concert lawn, pavilion, and a water splash pad — is undetermined. Mayor Bell said the city will need private funding for those added amenities.
Mayor Bell said the idea to change the park and slope the land gently toward the river came to him years ago. His plan is to double the size of the park and create a graded slope from North Summit Street down to the river. The redesigned park will be more usable for concerts, draw people to the waterfront, and help economic development in the downtown, he said.
“It is really exciting because if you look at the different schematics of what we are attempting to do, this phase two will give us a little bit more area to work on,” Mayor Bell said. “It also allows for a lot of open space in this park where as before the vision was blocked.”
A $2.2 million leftover from a state loan previously allocated for a public portion of the Marina District in East Toledo was rededicated for Promenade Park. The second phase cost of $1.96 million included $400,000 from the city’s capital improvements budget with the rest from the state loan.
A majority of Toledo City Council approved using the state loan for the park in March, 2012. Councilmen Adam Martinez, Tom Waniewski, and D. Michael Collins — Mr. Bell's opponent in the Nov. 5 election — voted against.
“We could have turned that money back in and lowered our debt,” Mr. Collins said. He wanted to see private sector money for the final phase before allocating public money.
“I respect the decision of council and the majority but my reservations are still in place,” he said.