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Published: Thursday, 7/26/2001

Party in West Toledo park celebrates new shelter house

For years, the old wooden shelter at Westwood Park supported community functions for a junior league football team, neighborhood rummage sales, and various meetings.

And for years, the local booster group made repairs on the shelter at the West Toledo park on Airedale Avenue near Talmadge Road and McGregor Lane.

But as the neighborhood grew, the shelter deteriorated.

“It was ready to fall down,” said Dawn Rospert, president of the Westwood Park board. “You can't describe it. It was that bad.”

Tired of the problem, Ms. Rospert sprang into action several years ago and her efforts paid off last week.

After getting $325,000 in capital improvement funds from the city, lots of volunteer work and corporate donations, there's a brick shelter house up now.

The neighborhood is still trying to raise funds for a refrigerator and a stove for the kitchen.

The building will be available for rentals, community events, and programs.

“The building is great,” Ms. Rospert said during the celebration activities that featured a band, hot dogs, and face-painting.

The project started around 1996 with Toledo city council member Betty Shultz and was inherited by councilwoman Tina Skeldon Wozniak, both of whom attended the festivities.

“It's a building built to last,” Mrs. Wozinak said. “It's surrounded by neighborhoods on all corners. It's important we pay attention to this park. ... You are a secret jewel.”

At first, Hap Warner, the coach of the Rams in the Washington Junior League football team for nearly three decades, was skeptical about plans for a building. He had taken care of the wooden shelter since 1982. Then, there was talk about tearing down the building and putting up a new one.

“I thought they were going to take it away from the kids,” Mr. Warner said. But he's pleased with the outcome and was there grilling hotdogs for the celebration.

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