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Published: Wednesday, 11/9/2005

Perrysburg: Park aims to target younger age group

BY TAD VEZNER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Though ground won't be broken for years to come, several Perrysburg community groups are planning a park that will cater specifically to younger children.

The Perrysburg Rotary Park, for which plans were completed just last month, is designed to address a lack of area facilities for young children - particularly kids of grade-school age. It would occupy a now-vacant, 20-acre plot of land behind the Fort Meigs YMCA, and will have an entrance off Fort Meigs Road.

"It'll be a 'little people's' park," said Perrysburg city councilman Joe Lawless, who chairs council's recreation committee and is a member of the Perrysburg Rotary Club, which has taken the lead in the project's planning.

Mr. Lawless noted that Perrysburg lacks parks geared toward a younger age-group, and the park will address that deficit with six half-sized soccer fields, two little-league baseball fields, a playground, and a pair of "tot lots" for toddlers.

But the park's facilities could be converted for use by an older group: the smaller soccer fields could be combined to become full-sized, and several basketball and tennis courts would be available for teenage tournaments.

Because only a few structures will be built, the estimated cost for the park will be $1.2 million, Mr. Lawless said. No formal funding structure has been set as of yet, though Mr. Lawless said the Perrysburg Rotary is hoping to chip in $250,000 with a fund-raising drive. He also hopes county, state, and federal grants will cover much of the remainder, although such grants have yet to be applied for.

Adding any aspect of the park to the city budget will be withheld until the third and final phase of renovating the Perrysburg Municipal Park is finished, which should happen sometime in 2007, Mr. Lawless said.

Park designer Jeff Normand of Perrysburg-based Normand Associates Inc. said he has yet to hear any objections to his design, for which he was paid about $1,500 by the city.

He credits that fact with efforts to reach out to a wide range of community members for input, including the Fort Meigs YMCA, local sports organizations, area residents, and a volunteer city committee known as the Park and Recreation Advisory Committee.

Jody Alexander, executive director of the Fort Meigs YMCA, said the park included everything she asked for.

"It complements our community well, and it complements what we have going on," she said, referring to increased interest and participation in sporting clubs, camps, and activities for 7 through 10-year-olds.

And it will be nice to look out on something other than a barren field. "Right now it's just a bunch of grass, very un-level. You can't do anything with it," she said.

Ron Stewart, chairman of PRAC, said he's also very happy with the park and has yet to receive any negative feedback. But he added that that's not too surprising.

"Feedback usually comes after you break ground," he said.

Contact Tad Vezner at:

tvezner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050



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