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Metroparks gets OK to link paths to parks

Chessie Circle, university trail among projects slated

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    The University Parks Trail will be extended a half-mile west into the northern edge of the old King Road landfill.

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    Andy Beckerman-Rodau, left, and Bruce Post cruise along the University/Parks Trail near Central Avenue in West Toledo.

The vision of the Metroparks of the Toledo Area to develop a network of recreation paths connecting parklands advanced Wednesday with the commissioners’ approval of projects for the University Parks and Chessie Circle trails.

The University Parks Trail is to be extended for about a half-mile west into the northern edge of the old King Road landfill under an agreement approved with Lucas County commissioners. The park commissioners also gave its staff permission to apply to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for grants to build the paved extension.

A remediation plan for the former 104-acre dump approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency allows for the abandoned rail line at the property’s north side to be used for the park trail. The EPA plan calls for most of the property, which has been fenced for many years, to remain off limits to the public.

“When I see paths like this and connections like this, I literally get goosebumps. There is a lot more to do, but I think this is a success to celebrate,” said Scott Savage, president of the parks commission.

The Metroparks and commissioners plan to submit a Clean Ohio Trail Fund application to cover 75 percent of the projected $247,465 cost to extend the trail through the landfill site to Silica Road.

“We fully expect to get support from the state level,” Metroparks Director Dave Zenk said.

Emily Ziegler, a Metroparks planning coordinator, said the extension would allow for future connections on proposed and existing trails to Olander Park in Sylvania and Secor and Oak Openings metroparks. The trail begins near Douglas Road at the University of Toledo and connects to Wildwood Metropark to King, where the trail terminates.

The commissioners also approved asking the state natural resources department to help pay for new trail-head facilities on Copeland Boulevard near South Detroit Avenue to access the Chessie Circle Trail. The trail head would be built on the old Beverly School site.

The park district’s application proposes using Recreational Trails Program funding to pay for 80 percent of the $178,800 estimated cost to construct a 10-vehicle parking lot, restrooms, and access path to the new trail.

Ms. Ziegler said the project would allow for expansion of parking at the trail-head site as use increases.

“This will be the first dedicated access point to the trail,” she said.

The 11-mile Chessie Circle Trail is a partnership among the Metroparks, the University of Toledo, the city of Toledo, Wood County Port Authority, and the Wood County Park District. 

The park district began construction last fall on its 1.4-mile portion that begins at Glanzman Road and ends at River Road.

Work also has been completed by Toledo from Laskey Road to Monroe Street. Plans call for extending the trail into Perrysburg Township by building a bridge over the Maumee River.

Commissioner Fritz Byers said developing a sprawling system of trails is among the amenities that could transform the area into a place where people want to live.

“Connectivity is the driver of everything about lifestyle and having choices,” Mr. Byers said. “What we are doing is just fantastic.”

The commissioners also approved a $266,428 contract with Playworld Midstates of New Albany, Ohio, to install a new children’s play structure at Swan Creek Preserve. The new structures, which will be accessible from the Airport Highway entrance, are replacing older, outdated equipment.

They also agreed to pay Aly Sterling Philanthropy, a Toledo consulting firm for fund-raising and organizational strategy, up to $68,400 to help develop a philanthropy plan for the Metroparks foundation.

In addition, the firm will review the group’s fund-raising efforts, conduct a feasibility study, and assist in the search for a development director.

In addition, a 10-acre parcel near Kitty Todd Nature Preserve in western Lucas County that had been used decades ago as a dump for household trash, debris, and industrial waste was purchased for $53,000.

The park district is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on remediation of the remaining surface trash and debris.

Located between Eber and Whitehouse Spencer roads, the land is to be used in the park district’s ongoing efforts in developing a wildlife corridor between its Secor and Oak Openings parks and trail connection between Wiregrass Lake and Westwinds Metroparks.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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