With little fanfare and no residents in attendance, members of the Toledo Area Metroparks board of directors approved the purchase of nearly 80 acres yesterday, another victory in their quest to preserve land.
Following a path begun in 2002 when taxpayers approved a 10-year, $23 million levy for land purchases, the metroparks system has continued to grow.
The growth this time is along the Oak Openings corridor in western Lucas County, where residents eventually will be able to enjoy wetlands, forests, and many of the more than 160 rare and endangered plants found in the region.
"We're trying to preserve what's left," said John Jaeger, director of natural resources for the metroparks. "We're thinking in terms of the future. The needs are not only there now, but they will be there in the future."
Yesterday, the three-member board ratified the purchase of a five-acre parcel and a 35-acre parcel, both on Weckerly Road near the Louis W. Campbell State Nature Preserve.
The parcels cost $58,400 and $301,928 respectively.
Also put before the board was a resolution authorizing the purchase of about 38 acres near Secor Metropark for nearly $750,000. Although the land has not yet been purchased, park officials have worked out a deal and hope to close on the land soon, said Tim Schetter, the park's land acquisition agent.
Mr. Jaeger said the acquisitions are all a part of the master plan to preserve green space while at the same time creating connecting routes between the system's 13 parks.
"We're trying to put together a continuous corridor to allow the wildlife a passage through," he said. "Once we complete the acquisitions, then we'll open it up for the planning process to see what residents would like see done with the area."
Since 2002, when the park district was made up of about 7,000 acres of greenspace, the levy has enabled park officials to buy an additional 1,000 acres, Jack Gallon, chairman of the board, said.
He said the board hopes to avoid bidding wars with developers, so its has concentrated its efforts on western Lucas County, where a lack of city water has meant fewer developments - for now.
"Our view is that if the property is developed it's lost forever," Mr. Gallon said. "We're in the business of preserving land forever and anytime that land is developed, we lose out."
Metroparks officials also are continuing the quest to buy the land adjacent to the Fallen Timbers Battlefield in Maumee.
Board members approved $226,240 for a small parcel near the Anthony Wayne Trail, which previously was residential.
Mr. Jaeger explained that the board has expressed interest to homeowners on the east side of Jerome Road to buy their property when they are ready to sell. He said about 10 homes remain.