Metroparks Magazine Summer 2012

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Summer 2012 Metroparks magazine, published for Metroparks members and supporters.

Text of Metroparks Magazine Summer 2012








Rotarys Gift To The Middlegrounds 4 Sculptures Make Playgrounds Unique 9 Meet The New Executive Director 12

METROPARKSM A G A Z I NSummer 2012 Vol. 19, No. 1 published by


Metroparks of the Toledo Area5100 West Central Avenue Toledo, OH 43615-2106 419.407.9700

Board of Park CommissionersScott J. Savage, President Fritz Byers, Vice President Lera Doneghy, Vice President Staff: Steven W. Madewell, Executive Director Denise Johnson, Director, Visitor Services Patty Morgenstern, Membership/Customer Service Manager Scott Carpenter, Public Relations Director/Editor Jesse Mireles, Art Direction Valerie Juhasz, Production Manager Metroparks of the Toledo Area 2012

On the cover: Tail feathers of a red-tailed hawk. Photo by Art Weber Opposite page: Deer in the morning at Side Cut Metropark on the Maumee River. Photo by Jesse Mireles

n Season IParking Leads To Parkeventy years ago this spring, Metroparks inherited land that would lead to a new Metropark on Central Avenue in the village


of Berkey. But the inherited property was nowhere close to the site of todays Secor Metropark it was a parking lot at the corner of Jefferson and Huron Streets in downtown Toledo. In April 1942, the park district received land valued at $93,000 from the estate of businessman Arthur J. Secor, who died the previous summer. In his will, Secor left the parking lot to the park district, stipulating that money raised from its operation be used to develop a new Metropark. In June 1956, the Board of Park Commissioners unveiled plans for 500-acre Secor Park, including an arboretum with over 500 varieties of trees and 200 types of shrubs. On the occasion of Ohio's sesquicentennial celebration, 135 trees one from each school in Lucas County were planted to create the Sesquicentennial School Grove. In September 1959, 300 invited guests attended a dedication of the nature center at Secor.

MiddlegroundsA Hub Again

Rotary Gift To Make

Facing page: The Anthony Wayne Bridge forms the eastern border of the Middlegrounds. Below: View of the parkland from the bridge. See center spread for additional photo.


he name Middlegrounds will again be just as appropriate as it was in the 1840s, but for different reasons.

That vision received a major boost in May when the Rotary Club of Toledo celebrated its 100th anniversary by donating $300,000 to the Middlegrounds project. It was the largest community investment in the history of a club with a long record of making a difference. The Metroparks system is a gift to the community and it keeps on giving, said Larry Howe, Toledo Rotary Foundation vicechairman. It is our pleasure to be part of this. Rotarians gathered May 5 at the 28-acre site to celebrate the double milestones a century of service and a future where a half-mile of parkland stretches from the Anthony Wayne Bridge to the Norfolk Southern railroad

yard, southwest of Martin Luther King Plaza. The first downtown Metropark will add to the momentum that has been building along the riverfront while serving nearby neighborhoods as a clean, safe, natural destination for families. At the May 5 event, Steve Madewell, Metroparks executive director, noted recent announcements about the renovation of nearby Promenade Park, owned by the city, and the former steam plant, which will house the downtown YMCA. We need to be thinking about connectivity and looking at the riverfront as a whole, Mr. Madewell said. There is so much

In the early days of the city of Toledo, the thin strip of land between Swan Creek and the Maumee River then called the Middle Ground was the regional hub for transportation and commerce. In 2015, when Middlegrounds Metropark opens on the site, it will again be a hub, where neighbors mingle with office workers from downtown buildings, fishermen share the incomparable river views with joggers, and picnickers enjoy watching rowers skimming the waters of the largest river on the Great Lakes.

potential for this property to become an urban greenspace to serve those who live nearby as well as drawing people downtown. Toledo Mayor Mike Bell called the Metropark another piece in the puzzle. With all the energy and economic development thats going on along the river, this is a perfect jewel to that portion of what we are trying to do, Mr. Bell said. This is just a beautiful location and its a great day for Toledo. Most of Toledos bridges can be viewed from the Middlegrounds, as well as parts of downtown. The Locke Branch of the ToledoLucas County Public Library can be seen across the river. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who also spoke at the event, talked about the park not only preserving riverfront land, but offering visitors an opportunity to learn more about the regions history. The Great River is the reason Toledo is here, she said. And it becomes more important to our future all the time. People can

come here to re-discover why people came here originally. Completion of phase one of the The Middlegrounds is scheduled for fall 2015, following a major renovation to the adjacent Anthony Wayne Bridge. It will include a shelter named for Toledo Rotary, which will be the centerpiece of a plaza. The shelter will resemble a railroad roundhouse, which used to occupy part of the site. Trails, parking, restrooms and river access are also part of the initial plans for the property. The Middlegrounds previously was used as a granary and a railroad yard. A bridge was once located at the south end of the property, but it was destroyed by a freighter that came loose from its moorings. For decades after the closing of the rail yard, the property was used as a dumping ground for a variety of building material and debris. Metroparks purchased the land in 2006. Since then, more than 8,000 tons of debris has been removed from the site. The $1.2 million purchase price

and other costs associated with the purchase were reimbursed to the park district from a grant through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Estuarine Land Conservation Program. The grant, totaling $1.5 million, was designated for the project by Congresswoman Kaptur in February 2005. A committee of citizens and Metroparks staff drafted a General Management Plan for the park, with public meetings

at each stage, to guide future development. The Middle Ground Was Areas Commercial Hub Today, the Middlegrounds of the mid-1800s would probably be called an intermodal transportation hub. Lake vessels, canal boats and railroads converged on the property, creating a honeycomb of commercial activity. There were docks, warehouses, grain

elevators, a train depot, hotels, boarding houses and a church for railroaders and sailors. A flood in 1883 changed the face of this area forever. The train depot was moved to higher ground, and in time the area was relegated to use for rail yards and warehousing. Declining use of the Erie Canal, which terminated at Swan Creek, forced grain elevators to relocate upriver. By the late 1880s the once busy commercial area fell into neglect and was all but forgotten. An attempt at residential development failed in the early 1990s. In 1997 Owens-Corning Corporation dedicated its corporate headquarters on a portion of the Middlegrounds, bringing new life to the historic area. Clean Up: 8,700 Tons

Of Debris Removed


efore planning for a new Metropark at the Middlegrounds could begin, first the site had to be cleaned up. Metroparks spent $283,000 to remove or recycle 8,700 tons (more than 173 million pounds!) of debris.

Photos on this and previous pages show the Middlegrounds in the late 1800's and today. The once busy commercial hub was forever changed by a great flood in 1883.

What was removed: 1,800,000 pounds of concrete 6,400,000 pounds of asphalt 7,000 pounds of steel 200,000 pounds of RR ties 700,000 pounds of wood chips 902,000 pounds of logs 5,080,000 pounds of stone/ aggregate 2,280,000 pounds of soil/fill


New Playgrounds will have Interactive SculpturesWhen we have these in place, they will be unlike anything else around, Mr. Zenk said. They wont be just playgrounds they will be Metroparks playgrounds, with designs that inspire kids to discover nature.


ventually, they will be unique play structures that blend into the surrounding landscape and engage young Metroparks visitors in outdoor adventures. But they begin as large blocks of Styrofoam in a downtown Toledo warehouse.

Thats where artists Doug Kampfer and Jeremy Links create detailed, natural-looking pieces of art that double as play equipment like the slide in the shape of a downed tree complete with a great horned owl nest that has already been installed at Secor Metropark. The artists, who were commissioned after Metroparks consulted the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, call their creations interactive sculpture. Dave Zenk, superintendent of parks, calls them signature playgrounds. When we have these in place, they will be unlike anything else

around, Mr. Zenk said. They wont be just playgrounds they will be Metroparks playgrounds, with designs that inspire kids to discover nature. Opened last November at the Walnut Grove picnic area, the Secor playground was the first for the new concept. Each new playground built in the future will include the unique, interactive features, which reflect the Metroparks conservation mission and the natural attributes to be found in individual parks. Farnsworth and Swan Cree