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UpTown Green construction nears completion

$2M park environmentally friendly

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Brian Martin of Dundee, Mich., puts in plants and covers the area with mulch in Uptown Green. He works for Fairway Lawn Service. The 2.5-acre park at 18th Street and Madison Avenue has a number of “green” features that are environmentally friendly.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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After three years of planning and development, work to create Toledo’s first sustainable urban park is nearly finished.

Steve Parker, superintendent of the project for Salenbien Trucking & Excavating Inc., the company selected by the city to construct UpTown Green Park, said the park should be completed in the coming days.

The 2.5-acre park at 18th Street and Madison Avenue has a number of “green” features that are environmentally friendly. A cistern will store rain water that trickles from the roof of a building adjacent to the park. That water will feed into the park‘‍s rain garden in a sort of waterfall effect. According to the UpTown Association Web site, “Directing storm water in this way reduces runoff, cleanses the water, and decreases dependence on the city sewer system.”

The park is to include native plants that could require less watering, fertilizer, and pesticides.

Although the park is to be completed soon, the official opening date remains unkown. Julie Champa, executive director of UpTown, said, “We need to make sure the plants and trees and everything are all rooted and we’‍re not sure how long that‘‍ll take, so we don’‍t want it to open too soon.”

Cost to construct the park will be just over $2 million, she said.

To begin the project, the city of Toledo received a $1.5 million grant from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund. That grant required $500,000 of matching funds. Mercy College contributed $100,000 of those funds.

The UpTown capital campaign obtained an additional $40,000 of matching funds. Ms. Champa said the capital campaign will continue to pay for additions to the park.

The balance of matching funds came from a tree grant that the city of Toledo obtained as well as what Ms. Champa called “in-kind services.”

Ms. Champa said the UpTown Green Park has been in the works since Mannik & Smith Group, designers and engineers of the park, approached the UpTown Association in 2011. Construction of the park began in the fall of 2013.

The fate of a nearby vacant building is not yet known.

“We’ve done some planning and budgeting so we’‍ve done some pre-development work already,” Ms. Champa said regarding the building. “The current goal is for the top three floors to be residential and the bottom floor to be commercial.” She said the plans are all subject to what different developers suggest or decide for the project.

The building is owned by the city of Toledo, effective July, 2011, through a property donation from the Lucas County Land Bank.

UpTown is determined to beautify the vacant building. The Arts Commission of Toledo is putting up a series of murals to cover the boarded up windows of the building. Ivan Kende, a local Toledo artist, said he and the arts commission will complete the artwork by September. He said the art will be “a surprise” for the community.

The UpTown Association has lofty goals for the park upon its opening. In a statement on its Web site, the association explains, “UpTown Green is near the neighborhood’s residential buildings and will serve as a green-link between the Old West End and the Mercy College campus and the growing Adams Street Arts and Entertainment District and downtown. The park will offer a safe, publicly accessible space that will benefit the community and prompt surrounding investment.”

Contact Kathleen Ashcraft at: kashcraft@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.

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