A central Toledo park will close for about 18 months starting Saturday while a major sewer line is built through it.
The amount of digging needed to build the Ayers-Monroe sewer, part of the city's ongoing Toledo Waterways Initiative, through Beatty Park leaves no alternative but to close off the park sandwiched between South Cove Boulevard and the Ottawa River on either side of Auburn Avenue, city officials said.
"With the size of these sewers, the depth of the trenches, and the large concrete junction chambers that will need to be constructed, there was no safe way to keep the park open during construction," said George Robinson II, the city's waterways commissioner.
Among the casualties will be the only cricket pitches in the Toledo park system. While two cricket clubs that regularly hold matches there will be allowed to play out their 2011 seasons during October even though the rest of the park is closed, they'll have to suspend their operations in 2012 or go somewhere else.
The pitches, made of concrete covered with artificial turf, will be rebuilt after the sewer construction ends, said Jim Calhoun, a project spokesman.
Dexter Bailey, the city's contact person for the Jamaican Cricket Club of Toledo, said he believed the club was seeking an alternative location, but did not know yesterday how much progress had been made.
Of 2,900 linear feet along the sewer's route, 1,300 will be in the park. It also will require closings of Auburn and South Cove next year near the park.
The affected streets also will be rebuilt after the sewer project is finished. Anderzack-Pitzen Construction Inc. of Metamora, Ohio, will be the contractor for the $6.6 million project.
The sewer's 9-foot diameter pipe will reduce the volume and frequency of sewer overflows into the Ottawa River during heavy rain. It is one of 25 separate neighborhood sewer projects the city is undertaking to reduce sewage discharges into Toledo's rivers that were the subject of an 11-year lawsuit brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The $450 million program, which Toledo agreed to build to settle the lawsuit, began in 2002 with an overhaul of the city's sewage treatment plant and is scheduled to conclude in 2020. It is funded by city sewer fees.
Beatty is not the first park to be dug up for a waterways-related project. Six years ago, much of River Road Park in South Toledo was dug up for the construction of a 3-million-gallon underground storage tank.
An 8 million-gallon storage basin is being built behind soccer fields off Schneider Road, a construction site visible from the nearby Kroger and Walmart stores.
The two underground facilities are intended to accumulate sewage during rainstorms for later processing at the treatment plant. Otherwise, storm runoff would overwhelm the plant's capacity and cause untreated sewage to flow into the Maumee and Ottawa rivers and Swan Creek, whose waters all eventually reach Lake Erie.
-- David Patch