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Get ready! Construction is about to begin on new Glass City Metropark

Drive along Main Street in East Toledo where the old Toledo Sports Arena used to stand and you can see the construction happening now on Marina District land that had frustrated Toledoans for remaining vacant so long.

That’s the $45 million, 360-unit cluster of apartments and townhouses Columbus developer Frank Kass is building near the Maumee River waterfront — and it’s only the beginning.

Construction is weeks away from starting on the much-anticipated Glass City Metropark that will be developed on dozens of acres in the same area, between the Kass housing project and the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

It’s a project that Metroparks Toledo has described as an unprecedented experiment for this area.

The upcoming Glass City Metropark is designed to not only complement the Kass residential project, but also connect Toledo’s International Park with a pedestrian bridge over Front Street.

The goal is to blend the park and the new residential area into a gateway to East Toledo that will improve property values and lead to a revival of some working class neighborhoods in need of more investment, officials have said.

The park district’s commissioners got an update on plans for the Glass City Metropark at Wednesday’s board meeting.

As discussed previously, it is to be a riverfront metropark with a combination of features not found at other Toledo-area parks.

Amenities are to include a lighted sledding hill, a concert knoll for up to 6,000 people, a refrigerated ice-skating ribbon, a splash-and-play area, a river boardwalk, a fishing platform, a lengthy trail system through neighborhoods near Waite High School, a modern, earth-bermed pavilion with seating for 150 people and standing room for 450 people, a canoe/kayak launch, electricity, accommodations for food trucks, and overnight camping. The plan is to connect outdoor recreation with the arts commission, area shops, and outdoor concerts.

There also will be more than 2,000 trees and many prairie plants.  The first phase, which costs $7.6 million, will be under construction this fall.

The board unanimously agreed to hire the Lathrop Company to construct the 30-acre first phase of the project and provide pre-construction services for the next phase at a cost not to exceed $8 million.  A little more than a year from now, by late October or early November 2020, that first phase of the new metropark will be completed.

At that point, the public will get a pretty good idea what the park will look like, Cheryl Zuellig, vice president and director of sites for Ann Arbor-based SmithGroup, the project’s architect, told the board.

Phase two is expected to bring the project to well over $10 million. According to park district records, it has that much money in hand now, about half from grants.

Schematics are just now being drawn, according to Emily Ziegler, Metroparks Toledo planning chief.  The construction timetable for the second phase has not yet been determined.  Board members said they are overjoyed that groundbreaking is now within sight.

“I almost can’t believe we’re here. We’ve talked about this for so long,” Metroparks Toledo Board President Scott Savage said. “I really feel good about making good on our promises.”

The meeting was held at the park district’s Brookwood Area near Swan Creek Metropark.

Those in attendance included outgoing Toledo City Councilman Peter Ujvagi, 70, who was lauded for his 38-year career in public service and “primarily and uniformly” recognized as a voice for East Toledo by Fritz Byers, one the metropark board’s vice presidents.

“Things are moving fast, but at the same time it seems like they have taken forever,” Mr. Ujvagi told the park district board. “One of the most important parts to me is reconnecting people to the river.”

He said the Maumee is a magnificent river, but has physically divided Toledo for decades. Now, these river-focused projects present an opportunity to psychologically unite Toledoans, Mr. Ujvagi said.

Besides the land-based amenities, Metroparks Toledo has a vision for what it calls the “nautical mile,” which will promote kayaking and other water-based activities along the Maumee River waterfront.

“But it’s not just the river,” Mr. Ujvagi said. “We also have to look at the neighborhoods.”

The Glass City Metropark’s main entrance will be built on Front, via an extension of East Broadway, while the site’s longstanding access off Main near the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge will be kept as a side entrance.

The future park’s design is meant to encourage more walking traffic between East Toledo businesses, and promote more hiking, jogging, and bicycling.

Metroparks Toledo said it has purchased 67 acres of riverfront land since September of 2018 from ProMedica for just under $6 million. More than $4 million of that came from the Clean Ohio Fund.

A U.S. Department of Transportation grant will pay for nearly $1 million of the $1.2 million cost of the pedestrian bridge, which is being handled as a separate project, the park district said.

Additional funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and U.S. Forest Service will support habitat restoration and reforestation.


Posted By: The Toledo Blade on September 25, 2019.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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