By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Buttonwood Park has again been overrun by ice chunks and water from its neighbor the Maumee River. This is the second time in four years that the river has unloaded ice and floodwater in the county park.
“It’s a mess,” Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said during Tuesday’s meeting of the county park board. “It’s going to be a while till we get in to take a look at it.”
But a park employee’s personal drone has taken photos showing the damage they can’t get to by vehicle or on foot.
The images show a park sign, gate, information kiosk and some parking lot posts moved or destroyed by ice that appeared to reach eight to 10 feet high in the park. The photos also show the parking lot full of water, gravel shifted and boulders moved by the power of the moving ice and water, soccer fields covered with ice, and trees scarred by ice.
Munger is hoping the damage is less than that caused by an ice jam in 2015.
“The ice was feet thick then, so I hope maybe this limited devastation,” he said of the thinner ice that came ashore last week. “My hope is we don’t have major damage like that.”
But Munger isn’t sure when it will be safe to enter the park, which is located where Hull Prairie Road dead-ends into the Maumee River in Perrysburg Township.
“It’s a wall of ice. It’s going to be a while,” he said.
“And winter isn’t over yet,” said Tom Myers, chairman of the park board.
The fact that the flooding has occurred twice in four years, should give the park district pause about investing money into the park, said Denny Parish, vice chairman of the board.
“I think this is a losing proposition – investing in Buttonwood,” Parish said. “I see this as a long-term problem.”
Munger pointed out that the park district has no permanent structures at the park, aside from fencing and a gravel parking lot, because of the risks.
Since the last flooding, the soccer fields at the park have not been used by Perrysburg soccer programs, but have been used by rugby programs. The park is also the site of the annual “pow wow” for Native Americans.
And during the walleye fishing season each spring, the parking lot is overflowing with anglers, Munger said. The county park system also has access to the Maumee River at Otsego Park, but that area is too far upstream for walleye fishing.
“Do we anticipate Buttonwood will be ready to go when the walleye hit,” Parish asked. That usually occurs in mid-March.
Munger was unsure, but said neighboring Perrysburg Township property should be accessible to those fishing. Munger also agreed that the park district needs to assess the Buttonwood Park facilities.
“We definitely need to look at future use,” he said.