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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2003

County to sell land for Anthony Wayne park

The Lucas County commissioners agreed yesterday to sell land in the western part of the county that will be used for a large athletic complex while preserving green space.

The commissioners are selling 205 acres of an area known as Nona France to the Toledo Area Metroparks for $1,000 an acre.

In turn, the park district will allow the Anthony Wayne Recreation District to establish an athletic complex of football, baseball, and soccer fields.

Harry Barlos, president of the commissioners, said selling the land to the parks will preserve open space rather than having it turned into subdivisions.

“I believe that 10 to 20 years from now people will look back and say, `They did the right thing,'” he said.

Scott Carpenter, a park spokesman, said the park district wanted to preserve the land because it contains rare oak savanna. The goal is to create a corridor between oak savanna areas so that plants and animals can migrate.

“It's sort of a win-win that other folks can use the property for their purposes, and we can preserve it forever as open space,” Mr. Carpenter said.

The park district's purchase of the land helps revive plans the Anthony Wayne Recreation District had for the same area. Last year, voters defeated a levy that would have allowed the district to buy the land from the county and build the complex.

The district's officials have said they may again ask voters for help in building the complex, but the costs would be significantly less because they don't have to buy the property.

Par Ricketts, co-chairman of the Citizens for AWARD Committee during the levy campaign, said the group could apply for grants to help build the complex.

“It gives us the opportunity to take a different and new look at other valuable options for funding,” he said.

Jim Spengler, Metroparks director, said even though the Anthony Wayne Recreation District will get use of the land for sports programs, it will be open to all members of the public.

He said plans haven't been solidified, but there will be times in which the fields won't be available for public use when AWARD has games scheduled. He said he suspects that some of the fields will be dedicated to public use.

“It's going to be a Metropark so every citizen will have access to the site as a Metropark,” Mr. Spengler said.

The park system owns about 350 acres of nearby land called the Blue Creek Conservation Area. In previous interviews, Mr. Spengler said the purchase of the Nona France land will allow a connection between Blue Creek and the Wabash Cannonball hike/bike trail.

In other business yesterday, the commissioners approved an agreement that will allow park rangers to patrol the south fork of the Wabash Cannonball trail, which is under construction.

Park rangers already patrol the north fork, said Ron Myers, of the county engineer's office.

He said a 7-mile section of the trail between Yawberg and Black roads should open in August. The south fork will run diagonally between the border of Fulton and Lucas counties and Jerome Road in Monclova Township.



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