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Published: Tuesday, 8/10/2004

Online reservations coming to parks site

BOWLING GREEN - The Wood County Park District wants visitors to be able to make reservations from their home computers for everything the parks offer, including shelter houses and canoe rentals.

Chief Ranger Greg Genzman told the board of park commissioners yesterday that the park district plans to borrow and customize software used by Lorain County Parks to make it simple for park users to make online reservations.

At the same time, the process would reduce the amount of time staff members must spend on the telephone.

Patrons could also pay for programs and facility reservations online with a credit card, he said.

"I kept track the other day, and a staff member was on the phone for six minutes with a Trolley on the Trail reservation," Mr. Genzman said.

With online reservations, people who are familiar with programs like the popular naturalist-led trolley ride on the Slippery Elm Trail could reserve a spot simply by going to the park district's Web site.

Part of the motivation for making the reservation process more efficient is the addition of the new nature center at the W.W. Knight Preserve in Perrysburg Township.

With an expected completion date in February, 2005, the $1.2 million center will give the park district another venue for programming and room rentals.

The Stone Hall at Otsego Park - probably the park district's

most popular rental spot - is reserved about 220 times a year, Mr. Genzman said.

Park Commissioner Dorthea Barker said the idea sounded like a good one, but she wanted to make sure residents would still be able to call the park office and speak with a human being.

In other business yesterday, the board approved a memorandum of understanding for its participation in an 11-mile hiking-and-biking trail that would extend from Bates Road south behind the Knight Preserve and across the Maumee River into Lucas County to Laskey Road near the Miracle Mile Shopping Center.

Wood County has committed up to $50,000 for a one-mile stretch of abandoned rail line that would link the trail to the larger Lucas County portion. The University of Toledo Foundation and the Toledo Area Metroparks have each pledged $1 million for the project, while Toledo City Council agreed to chip in $50,000.

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