Ruth and Dennis Gwynne decide which trail they'd like to go on at Secor Metropark in Sylvania.
Metroparks Toledo hired a Maumee contractor Friday to construct the first phase of a planned 13-mile walking-biking trail through a future wildlife corridor to connect Secor and Oak Openings Preserve parks.
The bid of $726,647 prepared by G6 Infrastructure LLC for the 1.6-mile section of the trail between Secor and Wiregrass Lake Metropark in western Lucas County was accepted by park commissioners at a special meeting.
The project is part of an overall master plan of the Metroparks to develop a user-friendly, multiuse trail system to move hikers, walkers, and cyclists from one park to another within the county.
"We are getting very close to being able to say that no matter where you live in Lucas County, you are never more than five miles from a Metropark," park system Director Dave Zenk said. "The other part of that vision is that the parks will be connected with trails, adding even greater accessibility and value across the county."
Work on the trail is to begin in the spring, with a completion date, depending on weather, in about three months, park officials said.
Metroparks received a $593,449 grant from the Clean Ohio Fund administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The path will begin at an existing trail in Secor Metropark and extend south to the entrance of Wiregrass Lake on Geiser Road. It will be 10 to 12 feet wide and stretch along scattered property in the historic and ecologically fragile Oak Openings region, acquired by park district over the last 15 years.
Most of the trail will consist of finely crushed, compacted aggregate. Some sections will be elevated precast concrete boards on piers to span and protect sensitive wetland areas, including Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve.
"This project is significant because it will really highlight some of our best natural resource work, the restoration that has occurred on the ground, and [will] open up areas that have been previously unavailable to the public," said Emily Ziegler, chief of planning and capital projects for the Metroparks.
The park system's bigger vision for the Oak Openings corridor is to extend the trail south to a future park to be built later this year on Monclova Road along the North Fork of the Wabash-Cannonball Trail. Plans call for building a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Ohio Turnpike and connecting Kitty Todd Nature Preserve to Westwinds Metropark and Lou Campbell State Nature Preserve.
When extended to the Wabash-Cannonball Trail, the Oak Openings Corridor trail could be used to access Oak Openings to the west, and Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Side Cut Metropark in Maumee to the east.
Also, the Metroparks will begin construction this spring on the first phase for extending University Parks Trail west of King Road into Sylvania, bringing the park district closer to connecting Wildwood and Secor metroparks.
"This really plays into our much bigger vision to connect parks to parks, and parks to people across the whole park district. Soon this area will be connected to the University Parks Trail. We basically will be creating a ring around the county using non-motorized trails," Ms. Ziegler said.
The Metroparks submitted an application in October to obtain a nearly $13.5 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant to complete the trail to the Wabash Cannonball Trail.
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