County park district programs think outside boring boxes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Wood County Park District’s programs extend outside the box – way beyond anything remotely resembling a box. Take for example the black frog beer and trivia event, the “M-archery Madness” and program on the Valentine’s Day view from the perspective of wildlife. “Those are a little more non-traditional programs,” said Jim Witter, park district program coordinator and the brainchild behind many of the less conventional looks at nature. Public surveys about the park programming have shown appreciation for the variety of activities offered. Some programs draw in crowds, such as the eclipse program that attracted 70 people, and the upcoming owl program that was capped off at 100. “We continue to get incredibly positive responses,” about programs, Bob Hawker, vice president of the park board, said Tuesday during the monthly park board meeting. Part of the attractions come with the particular parks – rock rappelling at Sawyer Nature Preserve, canoeing at W.W. Knight Preserve, and bicycling on the Slippery Elm Trail. “There’s a whole variety of adventure activities that continue to be liked,” Hawker said. But it goes beyond making the most of the rocks, water and trails in the parks. Much of the popularity is based on the park district programming staff’s ability to take a wacky look at wildlife and a non-conventional view of nature. “The staff continues to embrace what our constituents want,” Hawker said. “So far the results are overwhelmingly positive.” Some people are just naturally attracted to nature – so no creativity is needed. Those “nature nerds” will show up for programs on plants and animals. But others require a little ingenuity to lure them in. That’s where Witter and the programming staff gets to wander off the beaten path. Some programs teach skills – some more useful than others – such as how to use a compass, how to build a fire, or how to make a fly for fishing, “We try to think of things more outside the box to get more non-traditional folks out there,” Witter said. “We just have to decide how far outside the box.” The theory is, if a wacky programs gets people to the parks, they just might come back again. Some of the programs offer more “domestic” skills – like making Native American moccasins and reviving the lost art of mending clothes. Then there’s cooking – the old-fashioned way – like pickle making, and the upcoming class on making (and tasting) ricotta. Like many classes, that one is already full but has a waiting list. For the artistic types, there have been programs on decoy carving and painting, scarecrow making, pumpkin carving, and the upcoming program on snowman art – which could be difficult this season. For animal lovers, the list is long. There are chances to participate in frog monitoring, to learn to…

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Carter Park shelters ‘interesting’ but need replacing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Removal of the two “teepee” shelter houses at Carter Park is the next big ticket item on the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board’s to-do list. So the park shelter houses will be the benefactors of next year’s Wine and Cheese Auction event held for the parks. This year’s Wine and Cheese Auction benefited Ridge Park. The event raised $24,495, according to park board member Jodi Anderson. “It was very successful, as always,” Anderson said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board. “It was a great event,” Park Board President Jeff Crawford agreed. It has already been decided that next year’s event will raise funds to remove the aging shelter houses in the middle of Carter Park. Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said the style of the current shelters is “interesting.” However, they are structurally questionable, and are no longer considered worthy of renting out. The parks and recreation department has applied for a grant to build one new shelter to replace the two older ones. However, the grant won’t pay the entire cost, Otley said. So funds raised from the Wine and Cheese Auction will be directed to that project. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Otley praised the recent maintenance improvements at Conneaut/Haskins Park. A new park sign has been installed, old shrubs have been removed, and the dumpster has been replaced by trash receptacles. The Conneaut/Haskins Park is in store for more changes, thanks to an anonymous donation for new trees in the park, Otley said. In other business at Tuesday’s meeting: Otley announced that the seasonal restrooms in the parks will be closed on Nov. 7. Year-round heated restrooms will remain open in City Park, Simpson Garden Park and Wintergarden Park. Otley reported the new City Park building is on-track, with construction likely to start next March. She expects the final plans to be ready to present to the board at its January meeting. Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator, reported that the annual Zombie Mud Run was a success, with 133 participants this year. The board learned that new educational interpretive kiosks are being planned for Wintergarden Park, Carter Park and outside the Community Center to explain the native plantings in the parks.

County park district hits bullseye with archery range

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The latest park hit the bullseye for archers in the Wood County area. On Tuesday, the Wood County Park District held its monthly meeting at the new Arrowwood Archery Park, located on Linwood Road, southeast of Bowling Green. The park adds archery to the activity list of canoeing, biking, fishing, hiking, hunting, kayaking and rock climbing offered by the park district. “It shows the diversity of the Wood County Park District and the diversity of the staff,” said Denny Parish, chairman of the park board. Parish said he is proud of citizen support and staff making the variety of activities possible. Park district Executive Director Neil Munger agreed. “The idea for this archery range actually came from public input,” Munger said. (A grand opening will be held Sunday.) After the meeting, park board members were given a chance to try their skills at the new archery range. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board got its annual visit from former park board member and current park patron Frank McLaughlin about the need for more bike accommodations by the county park district. McLaughlin said he was out on the Slippery Elm Trail again this past weekend. He said he can’t imagine any park in the county getting more use. “It’s like a freeway out there on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said. While the trail from Bowling Green to North Baltimore is great, more would be nice. “We could certainly use something from Bowling Green to Perrysburg,” McLaughlin said. Munger mentioned that as a member of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments bicycle committee, the park district has learned of possible plans to use Hull Prairie Road to connect Bowling Green and Perrysburg. McLaughlin noted the narrow nature of Hull Prairie. Wood County is also falling behind on connecting the Chessie Circle and North Coast trails, he said. A bike trail already stretches from Lorain to eastern Wood County, then picks up again in Lucas County heading west to Archbold. McLaughlin mentioned the park district owns land that could be used for a bike trail in the Perrysburg Township area. “It would be nice to see that happen,” he said. “This is the one missing piece,” he said of the east-west bike trail across northern Ohio. Munger said the park district is trying to use a regional approach on bike trails, and will continue to look for grant funding for such projects. The board also agreed to increase park shelter house rental rates to $40 per day. Munger said the rates had been $25 for the last 27 years or so. Other area shelter house rental rates are $30 to $80 for four hours. The park district rentals are all for full days. “It’s still a bargain,” board member Tom Myers said of the new $40 rate. “All…

Park District opens archery range

From WOOD COUNTY PARK DISTRICT The Wood County Park District introduces its newest park property. The Arrowwood Archery Park grand opening will be Sunday, October 14, 2018 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Try your hand at archery and receive a short safety and skills lesson available first-come, first-served. Guests are welcome to bring their own equipment. The new archery range, located at 11126 Linwood Road in Bowling Green, will be open every day of the year from 8:00 am until 30 minutes past sunset. It is a covered, open-air shelter that is free to use. Park visitors bring their own equipment for personal range use. Park programs will provide equipment and instruction. The first public program offered at the Arrowwood Archery Park will be the free Jack-O’-Lantern Open Archery on Saturday, October 27th from 10 am until 12:30 pm. Pumpkins and carving tools are provided to create your jack-o-lantern target. Expert instruction and archery equipment are also provided at this Halloween-themed outdoor recreation program. For more information about the 20 parks and nature preserves in the Wood County Park District system and about the public programs offered, please visit , or call 419-353-1897.  

Park fees to increase, but pool rates treading water for now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Park fees will likely increase next year – but the city’s park and recreation board agreed Tuesday to not dive into rate hikes at the pool just yet. The board voted to raise rates for several park programs and facility usage by 3 percent. Excluded were programs that are already at the top that the market with bear. There will be no increase to membership fees at the community center, and a lower non-profit rental rate is being introduced. The proposed rate increases will be reviewed and acted on by City Council in October. Also on the list for proposed fee hikes were daily and season pool passes. But park board chairman Jeff Crawford asked that the proposed increases at the pool be studied further. He spoke about his wife’s experience teaching at Crim Elementary School, where a portion of the student body is lower income. Crawford said he would like to wait and see the summer statistics at the pool to see if it’s necessary to raise fees for kids using the facility. Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department, said families can get discounted passes. “I get that, but the parents don’t generally reach out for that,” Crawford said. Board member Jodi Anderson echoed that concern. Otley said that operating the pool is expensive. “Our expenses go up every year,” she said. The total revenues and expenses for this past summer aren’t available yet. The year was a good one for the pool – with attendance up by nearly 7,000. Labor Day weekend alone saw attendance of 1,598 at the pool. But those good years are needed to cover for bad years, Otley reminded. “I get what you’re saying,” Crawford said. However, he sees it from a different perspective, he explained. “If we’ve done well, we don’t need to raise them.” Crawford asked that while the other fee increases be passed on to City Council for approval, that the pool rates remain unchanged until after the board sees the numbers for this past summer. “I would feel more comfortable acting on this,” after viewing that information, he said. The board agreed. Recommendations call for a 3 percent increase in family pool passes, raising them by $4.50. The daily fee increase would be 25 cents. The rates were last raised in 2017. The proposed pool fees for daily admission are: $6.25 for adult residents; $7.25 for non-residents. $4 for child residents; $5 for non-residents. $5.75 for youth residents; $6.75 for non-residents. Annual fees proposed for pool passes are: $155 for resident families; $191 for non-residents. $108 for resident adults; $129 for non-residents. $98 for senior residents; $118 for non-residents. $88 for student residents; $98 for non-residents. Board member Karen Rippey said when she took visiting family members to the pool this summer they commented…

Clearing the air – BG to ban all smoking in city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board put principle (and clean air) above profits Tuesday evening as members voted unanimously to ban smoking in city parks. The park board asked that City Council adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking in the parks. The only concern expressed by the board was the possible loss of rental revenue from people using park facilities. But the board agreed that the loss of a couple rental fees was worth the effort to provide clean air to park patrons. “If we’re a trend setter in that area, I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the staff was very concerned about smoking near our programs and around our younger users,” Otley said. In order to keep smoking away from ballparks, playgrounds, and shelter houses, the park board banned smoking in all areas except parking lots. In 2015, vaping was included in the smoking restrictions. On Tuesday, the board voted to ban smoking anywhere in the parks, starting in 2019. “We can make sure people using our facilities are in a healthy environment,” Otley said. Park board president Jeff Crawford agreed. “It fits with what we stand for as parks and recreation,” Crawford said. “Maybe we’ll gain a few rentals.” Natural resources coordinator Chris Gajewicz said he doesn’t envision the smoking ban hurting park usage. He noted the smoking ban at BGSU has not cut into the university’s enrollment. “It doesn’t seem to be hurting them,” he said. Park staff has noticed an uptick in cigarette butts being tossed in the parks.The new smoking rule would be enforced by park staff – as are the current restrictions. “I have no problem walking up to someone and saying, ‘Please smoke in the parking lot,’” Gajewicz said of the current rules. If staff ran into problems, they would call city police to assist. Passage of a city ordinance would strengthen the enforcement, Otley said. Mayor Dick Edwards commended the board for taking steps to completely ban smoking in city parks. “Given what we’re all about with the parks, it makes really good sense from my perspective,” Edwards said.

Secrets to stay sealed – unopened time capsule likely to be buried again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It looks like secrets buried in City Park will stay buried in City Park – at least for another 15 years. The riddle of the mystery time capsule rediscovered last week was solved. The capsule was buried as part of the city’s 150th birthday party in 1983. The sesquicentennial  bash also featured a 150-foot banana split and square dance demonstrations. But as far as the secrets contained inside the time capsule – well, city residents may have to wait several more years to have those treasures revealed. Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said Monday that the original intention was likely that the time capsule remain buried for 50 years. It has only been 35 years since it was put in the ground during a community ceremony. “My guess is we will probably rebury it,” Otley said. The forgotten time capsule was rediscovered last week then city park staff and architects walked the area of City Park where a new building is being planned. The time capsule is under the footprint of the building. When the park department’s natural resources coordinator Chris Gajewicz posed the question about the time capsule last week on Facebook, it sent local residents scurrying for their local history sources. The time capsule is covered with concrete, a rock, and some etching that was too weathered to read. But some long-time Bowling Green residents recognized the location as the site of the sesquicentennial time capsule. The capsule was buried with great pomp and circumstance on Oct. 2, 1983, during a community gathering in City Park that commemorated the city’s 150th birthday. More than 1,000 townspeople showed up for the festivities which included a box lunch for $3 each, a hymn sing, children’s games, horseshoe tournament, pie baking contest judging, a style show of old fashions, softball games, wagon rides,and prizes awarded for a beard growing competition. Top-billing, right after the box lunch, was the burying of the time capsule. The event was recorded by Joan Gordon, who headed up the sesquicentennial committee. A photo taken by Jim Gordon shows local historian Lyle Fletcher burying the time capsule. But 35 years later, the time capsule, with its now undecipherable etching, had gone unnoticed. The mystery memorial would be allowed to rest there undisturbed, except that it is sitting in the path of the new City Park building being constructed next year. The new building in City Park will take the place of the existing Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building, and the Depot. It has necessitated the moving or replacing of some memorial trees. And now, the time capsule will likely join in that transplanting – no longer a mystery except for its 35-year-old contents.