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Published: Thursday, 1/22/2009

Parks acquire more land

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two more parcels in the Oak Openings region are being acquired by Metroparks of the Toledo Area, furthering the regional park district's holding of land.

The three-member Metroparks board yesterday authorized the purchase of 20.5 acres in eastern Fulton County's Swancreek Township for $170,000 and three acres in western Lucas County's Spencer Township for $30,000.

The $170,000 deal consists of land with mature pin oak trees on the west side of Fulton-Lucas Road, known in Fulton County as County Road 1. The property lies adjacent to the Wabash Cannonball Trail, and could be used to enhance it. A Clean Ohio Fund grant will cover $135,000 of the sale price, said Tim Schetter, the park district's land planning and acquisition manager.

The $30,000 acquisition consists of land with habitat suitable for mature pin oaks. The park district tentatively acquired it through a Lucas County sheriff's auction. Located at 106 Schwanberger, it has a house that is to be demolished.

In other action, the board:

w Rejected a fact-finder's recommendation stemming from a labor dispute between the park district's administration and its 50 unionized employees represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The unionized employees, who include park rangers, maintenance workers, naturalists, and administrative support staff, make up a third of the park district's work force, Metroparks spokesman Scott Carpenter said.

The park district's attorney, Jack McBride, said both sides agreed not to disclose figures under negotiation. He said, however, the dispute is over the amount of pay increases and length of contract; pay cuts or benefit reductions were not on the table.

The 50 unionized employees have been working without a contract since March. The board authorized the administration to keep negotiating.

•Authorized a redesign of the park district's Web site and a continued relationship with WGTE Public Media for it.

The new site is to debut

May 1. It drew more than 5 million visitors in 2008, Mr. Carpenter said.

•Elected Scott Savage its new president. Lera Doneghy and Fritz Byers, the newest board member, will serve as vice presidents.



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