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Irwin Park - until a few years ago a nearly-untended lot at the corner of Irwin and Angola roads - has recently been deeded to Spencer Township from Lucas County.
When the township first asked about taking control of the land in 1999, it was determined that it was county property.
County officials began to take better care of the land, and improvements have been ongoing since the township was given the responsibility for its upkeep about two years ago.
It was little more than a litter-strewn lot for 20 years until the township began to ask about the site, said Township Trustee Mike Hood.
Its gradual improvement took a jump forward In 2002 when the county put $110,000 in grant money toward improving the land and installed a brightly-colored play structure for area children.
A building on the site, which had been used for warehousing equipment, now is usable year-round for family gatherings, wedding receptions and other events.
Some of the grant money paid for a new roof, a furnace and insulation, rest rooms and kitchen facilities.
Mr. Hood said a wedding reception was held their last weekend.
He added that the township has little in the way of recreational facilities other than the park, but its improved condition has brought increased use.
Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the Lucas County Commissioners, said she has visited the site since the township has been responsible for its upkeep.
"I've seen the care they've given the park over the last year and it looks great.
It shows what can occur when a community takes ownership of a park.''
She said the park is now in local hands, "where there are people who can monitor and encourage use of the park.''
The increased use has also kept people away who might want to vandalize or dump waste at the site, Mr. Hood said.
Members of an area church, The Ambassadors For Christ, have agreed to be responsible for the site.
The church is able to use the building for its functions and to collect rent for others using the facility.
In exchange, the church is responsible for the upkeep of the site.
Mr. Hood said the arrangement has been in effect for more than a year, "and they've done a very good job.
"They're part of the private component which has made this arrangement work so well," he said.
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