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Perrysburg Township declines $100K request for park expansion

Posted By: Toledo Blade on September 6, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

One financial request to help expand a Perrysburg Township park has been rejected, but county officials are hopeful they can cobble together other support to buy 30 acres.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Perrysburg Township trustees decided not to give the requested $100,000, or any amount, to the Wood County Park District. Chris Smalley, park district director, said there is an unprecedented opportunity to acquire 33 acres and expand JC Reuthinger Memorial Preserve off Oregon Road. The preserve is currently made up of 69 acres with a 30-acre wetland meadow and a 5.5-acre pond.

“It’s also home to our stewardship department and native seed nursery,” Mr. Smalley said.

“We have a rare opportunity to acquire some additional acreage,” he said.

The Reuthinger family is offering the park district the chance to purchase 30 acres south of the existing park for $1.2 million, and will donate three acres, Mr. Smalley said. The park district is putting up $200,000. The Wood County Port Authority is giving $80,000. The Friends of the Park is offering $17,000. The Wood County commissioners have been asked for $400,000.

They are trying to round up two-thirds of the $1.2 million, then apply for a $400,000 Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program grant, Mr. Smalley said.

“These are competitive grants,” Mr. Smalley said. “So we’re working with other agencies in an attempt to try to make our grant application competitive and increase our local match.

“This is one of those rare opportunities to expand that particular park. It’s kind of landlocked. It would create an island of park in an otherwise highly developed area.”

If the park district cannot purchase the land, it will be sold for development. Mr. Smalley asked the township for $100,000.

“We’re open to other suggestions as well,” he said.

Milton “Tony” Knight said that his family donated land that became the W.W. Knight Preserve in Perrysburg.

“We think, quite frankly, this park would be a tremendous addition to the process,” said Mr. Knight, who is also a port authority member.

“I think it’s a very worthwhile project,” trustee Gary Britten. However, he said that the trustees are already behind on a township park project. They were given seven acres on Simmons Road to develop into a park, Mr. Britten said.

“We have not even been able to find the money to do that,” he said, adding that the Simmons Road park would cost more than $250,000 to develop. Mr. Britten acknowledged that the township’s comprehensive plan showed a need for more parks and recreation.

“It’s a nice project,” trustee Joe Schaller said. “But I really think before we do that we need to take care of this park over here and get that done.”

“The funds just aren’t there,” Mr. Britten added.

Trustee Bob Mack (of Signature Associates) said that he could not participate in voting or discussion on the issue because he is involved in the sale and lease of commercial property in the area. Mr. Smalley said that the grant request is due at 4 p.m. on Friday.

“We’re rushing to try to make this all work,” he said. “I realize that it is an extraordinary ask. It’s just a rare spot and a rare opportunity — really the only — chance for growth for this park.”

Bob Warnimont, township recreation director, asked the trustees to contribute some funding toward the Reuthinger project.

“I just wish we could do something,” he said. After the meeting, Mr. Britten said they would not financially support the project.

“We’ll give them a letter of support, but money-wise, monetary-wise, no,” he said.

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