BOWLING GREEN - The Wood County Park District plans to develop its first nature preserve within the city limits.
The board of park commissioners yesterday agreed 3-0 to purchase 38 acres adjacent to Kenwood Elementary School on the city's south side for $225,000.
The park district plans to use part of the land for parking along its popular Slippery Elm Trail, while the eastern third of the property will be sold to the city for $75,000 in part to create a water retention pond.
“My feeling is that because it's adjacent to the trail, because it's a sizable piece of real estate, and because the purchase price - for land in the city of Bowling Green - is extremely reasonable, this would be an important acquisition for the park district,” said George Thompson, chairman of the park board.
After about a month of negotiations with the land owner, New Plan Excel Realty Trust, Inc., the park board arrived at a purchase price of just under $6,000 an acre. Neil Munger, park district director, said the land had been appraised at $10,000 an acre.
The 38 acres are in a natural state. The eastern portion abuts Kenwood Avenue, and the western boundary runs along the Slippery Elm Trail. The trail is a 12-foot-wide asphalt hiking and biking path that begins at the Montessori School of Bowling Green and runs southward 13 miles to the village of North Baltimore.
Mr. Munger said parking for trail users is harder to come by at the Montessori School, so a portion of this new property eventually will be used for trail parking. The rest is likely to become a nature preserve for hikers and bird watchers.
He said he does not expect anything to be done with the land until the city moves forward with its long-range plans to extend Maple Street from Sand Ridge Road, where it ends, through the park district's property.
Access for the trail parking would be from the Maple Street extension. City Administrator John Fawcett said there are no immediate plans to lengthen Maple Street, although any development south of the area could expedite the street's construction.
Mr. Fawcett said the project will allow the city to address ongoing storm water drainage problems in the area by creating a water retention pond on a portion of the land.
“This is really an excellent opportunity for the community in that it fits directly with the scope of plans that we had for that district,” he said.
Park commissioners stipulated that the pond not take up more than 6.5 acres and that it be used for recreational purposes such as fishing. The remainder of the land the city is acquiring from the park district also is to be used for recreation only, not for construction or other development.