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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2005

Bowling Green: Adults declare what more they want in parks

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - City residents like the parks in town but say they'd like to see more paved walking and biking trails, more social and cultural programs, and even an indoor pool at the new community center.

The ideas came from a survey sent to 5,000 city residents this winter and completed by 605 people.

Parks Director Michelle Grigore said she feels like she got a good idea of what adults are looking for in their parks, but she wants to know what kids are thinking, too. The majority of couples that responded said they did not have children living at home.

"The youths are pretty much absent from this survey,'' she said.

Ms. Grigore is preparing another questionnaire that will be distributed this spring to students at the junior high and high school. Results from all of the surveys will be used to help the city parks and recreation department make plan.

"This is all in preparation for creating a master plan to give us a sense of where we're going in the next five to 10 years,'' she said, adding that some projects - like an indoor pool at the new community center - may have to be long-range goals because of the cost.

This summer, the city will open its new $9.5 million community center, which it built with the Ohio National Guard and the Wood County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. The center includes three gymnasiums, an indoor track, and fitness center. A second phase, which exists only on paper, would include an indoor pool.

Sixty percent of those answering the survey said they hoped the city would pursue construction of an indoor pool at the community center in the coming years.

Ms. Grigore said the city must decide what to do with the outdoor pool at City Park, which had a liner installed over its concrete shell in 1993. The liner is expected to last 10 years or more.

"We have at least eight more years with the outdoor pool to get our ducks in a row,'' she said. "That's probably the biggest thing on our radar screen is deciding what to do with that pool.''

Those who answered the survey named swimming and biking as their top recreational activities, second only to walking. Some 55 percent said renovating the outdoor pool at City Park was important.

The top priority for survey respondents who were asked what recreational needs were not being met was a desire for more social and cultural programs, which the survey identified as concerts, picnics, and special events.

"I was surprised how high that ranked. It certainly means a little different focus for us,'' Ms. Grigore said.

During the summer, the city offers a Sunday evening concert series at City Park and a Thursday lunch in the park program. Ms. Grigore said Bowling Green has a lot of cultural activities going on and perhaps the parks could be a venue for some of those events.

"We don't want to duplicate services,'' she said.

The top long-range projects identified in the survey were adding more trails and acquiring more open space for natural areas.


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