Breaking ground at City Park, allowing wetland at Wintergarden

Drone photo of front lawn of Wintergarden Park, taken by Denny Betts, Black Swamp Photography

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

As City Park gets a new building, a portion of Wintergarden Park may be allowed to revert back to wetlands.

Both projects were discussed Tuesday evening by the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board.

To illustrate the true nature of Wintergarden Park, Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz showed a drone photo taken of the “lake” in the front acres of the park.

“It’s trying to tell us it wants to be a wetland,” he said. The parks department had been fighting it for years, he said, but the land just wasn’t meant to be a dry field.

“This is a really big thing, to turn it back into what it wants to be,” Gajewicz said.

Park board president Jeff Crawford was interested in the park plan.

“I think that’s really exciting – if we could have a wetland out there,” he said.

Gajewicz also reported that Wintergarden Park is busy with birds and birders right now.

“Spring migration is on,” he said. And those visiting birds bring out humans with binoculars and big cameras.

“We’re seeing people from all over the region and all over the state,” wanting to see the migratory birds in the park.

Wintergarden Park is “part of the loop” for birders – along with places like Magee Marsh and Oak Openings, Gajewicz said.

In fact, on Easter both Crawford and Gajewicz were out at Wintergarden Park to get a glimpse of a prothonotary warbler stopping by the park.

The blooming daffodils at Simpson Garden Park are also drawing admiring crowds and people looking for a picturesque backdrop, Gajewicz said. The garden started with 10,000 daffodil plants, and now has many more.

“There’s always something new to see here,” Gajewicz said about other changing features of the park.

Construction for new building in City Park

Also at the meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said the new Veterans Hall in City Park is on schedule, with an official groundbreaking scheduled for May 14, at 1:30 p.m.

“Dotson Co. has been really good to work with, really responsive,” Otley said the contractor working on the new building.

Crawford asked if the construction is still on track for opening in January of 2020.

Otley replied, “ish,” and said she has been referring to the building completion date as early in 2020.

In other business, Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator, said the loss of the old Veterans Building in City Park is leading to more use of the community center for programs such as the recent Pint Sized Prom.

Kovacevic also reported pass sales at the community center are up significantly this year compared to the first quarter of last year. The “mind-body fitness” classes have created some of that increase. The new programming allows patrons to pay one fee for a variety of classes, like zumba, yoga and spinning.

“It’s definitely working,” Kovacevic said.

Otley also reported that the trail has been paved between the community center and the athletic fields behind the center. The asphalt trail will not only make it easier for families to access the fields, but also give the community center an emergency entrance and exit in case of flooding on Newton Road. Flooding of the road leading to the center has caused the center to close twice in the last 13 years, she said.

Otley also announced that the new HVAC system at the Simpson Building will result in the park department getting “efficiency smart” money back. “We’re excited to do the right thing, and actually get some money back, too,” she said.

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