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Published: Wednesday, 10/2/2002

Playground equipment provides centerpiece for Irwin Park


Children clambered on the centerpiece of the refurbished Irwin Park in Spencer Township this week, even before officials could dedicate it and other improvements at the site.

The park, on Irwin Road just north of Angola Road, has been described as “a big field that got cut sometimes,'' by Brian Bilger, manager of economic development for Lucas County. But it should be a more inviting place for the community after the county put $110,000 of grant money toward sprucing it up.

The most visible improvement is a large brightly colored play structure that about 20 children from the nearby Community Development Center flocked to as soon as they arrived at the park.

Their squeals as they scampered over and through the structure and whizzed down its slides nearly drowned out Sandy Isenberg, president of the Lucas County commissioners, who said the improvements were the result of block grants and other government grants that came through county applications.

In addition to the visible park additions, there were other improvements that made a large building on the property usable year-round.

Michael Hood, president of the Spencer Township trustees, said the park has been used by area youngsters, but expects its use to increase with the improvements.

The Irwin Park community building was first been used as storage space for township equipment, but gradually became used as a center for family reunions and similar events, said James Meredith, a township trustee.

Martin Charney, manager of the department of public service for the county, said the building was usable in good weather, but was not heated in the winter.

The county provided the funds for a foundation, a new roof, a furnace and insulation. Rest room and kitchen facilities have also been upgraded, he said.

A large brick barbecue and shelter are still to be installed and the baseball diamond will also be improved by the spring.

Janet Barnes, director of the Community Development Center, said the children in programs at the nearby center used to use the park, but not on a regular basis.

She pointed to swing set with some seats dangling from a single chain. “That was about it,'' she said.

Ms. Barnes said that now, during nice weather, the park is likely to be a daily stop for the children in day-care or Head Start programs at the center.

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