parks

Author talks about the importance of going native in backyard planting

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Heather Holm is always interested in doing less work in her garden. The author would rather spend her time observing the bees, butterflies, wasps, and other insects that inhabit the space. And she was pleased to tell those gathered in the Simpson Garden Building in Bowling Green that the two go hand in hand. Holm was in Bowling Green recently to speak on “Forget Television – The Real Entertainment is Happening Outside in Your Pollinator-Friendly Garden,” a talk sponsored by Bowling Green Parks and Recreation and Oak Openings Wild Ones. Funds from the Kuebeck Forum helped fund the program. Holm structured her talk around what one would find on cable TV if they weren’t out observing and working on their yards. There was everything from the food channel to crime. Her message was to cultivate plants native to the area as a way of fostering populations of pollinators needed for a healthy local environment. So plant milk weed to help feed Monarch butterflies, who depend entirely on plants for food, Holm said. Keep in mind color – butterflies and bees can’t see red – as well as fragrance as a way of attracting them. “There are plants that will thrive in the horrible conditions you’ve been struggling with all these years,” the Minnesota-based author said. And ease up on some gardening chores. Holm said she leaves plant stubble up in the fall to give nesting spaces to insects. She also doesn’t clear away natural debris because 70 percent of bees nest below ground and this provides the right material they need. On the other hand, wood mulch is a barrier for those nests. She urged the full house attending her talk to avoid applying pesticides. They inflict collateral damage on the insects that actually are better at controlling aphids and other unwanted bugs. Holm also described the many insects, some bees, some not, that can be confused with others. And when she reached the crime channel section of her talk she offered up an example that would make a zombie blanch. Conopid flies lay eggs inside the abdomen of a bumblebee, and then consume the bee once the eggs are hatched. Creating pollinator friendly landscapes is not just a suburban or rural concern. Research, she said, shows bees are often more abundant in cities than in neighboring rural areas, particularly in low income areas where there are vacant lots and less use of pesticides. Regardless of the area, Holm concluded it is important to cultivate native plants. They support specialized relationships being particular fauna and flora. They are more attractive, four times more attractive, to pollinators than non-native species. They are adapted to local growing conditions. They improve biodiversity by providing food and habitat, directly or indirectly, for all organisms throughout the food chain. For those who are interested in learning more, Holm has written two books “Pollinators of Native Plants” (2014) and “Bees” (2017). Wild Ones is an organization that promotes the use of native plants. The local chapter is Oak Openings Wild Ones.  


BG celebrates community’s ‘Best Hometown’ status

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It was a year ago that Bowling Green was named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns by Ohio Magazine. Next week, the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau will remind local residents why their community won that honor. A “Best of BG” event is planned for July 19, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., in the Simpson Garden Park Building, and the surrounding gardens. It’s fitting that the event be held at the park, since the gardens were one of the factors that won Bowling Green its “Best Hometown” status. The event will feature at least 35 businesses in the hospitality, restaurant, retail and lodging sectors, plus non-profit organizations. “We’re pretty excited about it,” said Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re having the opportunity to celebrate again our hometown honor.” Next week is a busy one for local officials. The city and university are hosting the Ohio Town & Gown Summit, with an estimated 150 attending. The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual luncheon on Friday, followed by the second Firefly Nights downtown in the evening. “It’s a big week,” Chambers said. “Our town’s always got something going on.” That buzz of activity helped the city secure its “Best Hometown” status. As editor of Ohio Magazine, Jim Vickers is accustomed to visiting communities throughout the state. But during his stop in Bowling Green, Vickers was struck by three features of the city – the energy from the university even though most students were gone for the summer, the healthy historic downtown, and the beautiful Simpson Garden Park. The 12th annual Ohio’s Best Hometowns issue of the magazine recognizes four communities in addition to Bowling Green: Marietta, Milford, Mount Vernon and Wooster. Bowling Green beat out other communities because of its vibrant college town atmosphere, strong sense of community and shared vision for the future. “I was in Bowling Green for the site visit,” Vickers said, so he had first-hand knowledge of why the city ranked so high. “Every year we look for towns that exemplify a strong community.” They checked out the campus. “It’s a vibrant college town, even in the summertime,” he said last year shortly after the awards were announced. “There’s an energy there.” They went downtown. “The health of the downtown really struck us. There’s a lot of work that goes into a downtown that works.” And they visited Simpson Garden Park. “That was a true community effort,” Vickers said. “That wouldn’t have happened without the community bonding together.” This is the second time Bowling Green has been named one of the state’s best hometowns by Ohio Magazine. The last time was 10 years ago. “I was so proud of showing all the things that happened in the last 10 years,” Chambers said. The magazine representatives met with Mayor Dick Edwards, toured the Ben Franklin store downtown, talked with then BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey, and learned about the creation of the Four Corners offices. They also toured the Dream Cars museum, the Wood County Historical Center and Simpson Garden Park. They learned of the Not In Our Town movement, the community action plan, and teamwork by the hospital and university. “They got to see the best of everything,” Chambers said. While the…


Wood County residents urged to get up and get active

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County residents are being politely prodded to get up off their sedentary seats. The Wood County Health Department has launched a campaign encouraging local residents to get more exercise using free community parks and trails. Health surveys have shown that too many people are overweight, and too few are getting the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. Only 28 percent of Wood County adults surveyed last year said they exercise five days or more per week. Ten percent said they did not have any physical activity in the past week. Inactivity and obesity are tied to many areas of a person’s health and can lead to a variety of serious diseases. And last year’s physical activity and nutrition survey showed that Wood County residents need to do better at both. “It was enough to give us some ideas of where we should prioritize,” said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator for the Wood County Health Department. “It’s pretty much common knowledge that lack of physical activity and obesity are big problems across the country,” Aspacher added. The survey conducted last year showed that not only were many people not getting enough exercise, but many also weren’t aware of local exercise options available to them. So health department officials decided to start a motivational campaign, encouraging local residents to use the exercise options already available throughout the county. “We have great parks. We want to promote what we already have,” Aspacher said. In addition to the county parks, nearly every community in Wood County also has its own park. “You can go to the park in Grand Rapids and see something completely different than you would see in the park in Bradner.” A new website, WoodCountyHealth.org/activity, lists parks and trails in different communities, as well as events such as 5Ks and fun runs, and links to recreation programs, fitness groups, SilverSneakers sites for seniors, and several links to cycling resources. “There is one place to go for the information,” Aspacher said of the website. “This might inspire someone to go to a park.” Having a goal in mind can create the motivation people need to stick with an exercise routine, but many people have a tough time getting started. Wood County Health Department will post encouraging messages, exercise tips and photos showing the diverse parks and recreation opportunities that Wood County has to offer. Local residents are asked to share those messages on social media. “We want them to help amplify the people we reach,” Aspacher said. The health department’s physical activity campaign will culminate Aug. 17 at the Pemberville 5-Miler, which also includes a free 1-mile fun run, making it a great target for people of all fitness levels, he said. “Walking is something that everybody can do,” he said, adding that fitness events can be good ways to change up a routine or set an exercise goal. Wood County Health Department is partnering with Pemberville Independent Merchants Association, a group working to promote area businesses and community events. PIMA and other partners have provided feedback on messages and advertising and will help evaluate the reach of the campaign.


Wood County ‘park rangers’ changed to ‘park police’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The shouted command, “Stop, park ranger,” just doesn’t carry the same authority as “Stop, police.” For that reason and others, the Wood County Park District’s rangers asked the park board Tuesday to change their title from rangers to police officers. The park board voted unanimously to do so. In the past, the county park rangers had law enforcement and maintenance roles. That has changed, and the rangers now perform strictly law enforcement duties. The park rangers are certified Ohio Peace Officers, and the name change would clarify their authority. “In making this change, we are hoping to clarify exactly what we do as certified peace officers working in the park district, and to help our employees, visitors and neighbors feel more secure while being in or near our properties,” the rangers’ proposal stated. “As rangers, we constantly encounter people who have no idea what a park ranger is or that we are law enforcement officers,” the proposal continued. “We have had people question our need for carrying a gun, if we have the same authority as law enforcement, and challenge us when we try to enforce park rules and laws.” The rangers also said when working with multiple agencies and dispatchers, it takes time to explain their authority. When rangers formally make a criminal charge in court, they sometimes have to remind court employees that they are certified peace officers. “We believe that because of the public’s inability to distinguish exactly what we are or what we do, eventually an incident may escalate the need for force and thus escalate the liability of the park district,” their proposal stated. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said Delaware County’s park system has changed the title of its rangers to police. “It clears up any vagueness to what their responsibility is,” Munger said. Ranger Mark Reef agreed. “This is so the public can identify that we have law enforcement authority.” Toledo Metroparks still refers to its officers as rangers, according to Scott Carpenter, head of public relations for the metroparks. “We like them being called rangers,” Carpenter said, adding that the officers do more than protect people, by also looking out for nature. Carpenter also noted that all national parks are patrolled by park rangers, not park police. Wood County Park District Chief Ranger Todd Nofzinger said the name change will not change the rangers’ roles. “It doesn’t change what we do. It doesn’t change our daily duties,” Nofzinger said. Board member Sandy Wiechman had a few logistical questions, but was told the name change would not require any additional training or radio changes. “It’s been a long time coming, and they deserve it,” she said. There will be an expense of about $4,000, to change markings on vehicles, badges, paperwork and patches. In 2012, the rangers presented a proposal that would replace their shotguns with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. They asserted that the weapons, in addition to providing less legal liability than the shotguns if fired, would also be more practical when rangers are required to dispatch rabid animals and would also serve rangers better in cases of a possible active shooter situation. The park board at the time did not approve that request. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park district board decided…


Hold the mower, Simpson Garden Park tries natural look

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No, the city lawn mowers are working just fine. No, the recent rains haven’t created an abnormal growth spurt in these grasses. The city parks and recreation staff is fielding questions about the new tall grasses being tried out in Simpson Garden Park. To those with perfectly manicured lawns, the new experiment at Simpson Garden Park may be jarring and offend their sense of order. But to the park staff, the new tall grasses are an experiment that could lessen the human impact on the environment. Chris Gajewicz, the city’s natural resources coordinator, talked about the new grass Tuesday evening during the monthly meeting of the city parks and recreation board. The new grass getting the attention is a fescue called Scottish Links, growing near the amphitheater in the park. It is drought resistant, so it does not need to be irrigated, and does not need fertilized. Once established, the fescue out-competes weeds like dandelions and thistle, so there is little to no need for chemical herbicides and pesticides to manage weeds, Gajewicz said. The Scottish Links is a low-mow grass variety, so the staff may mow it as little as once a year – which will use less fossil fuels and produce less carbon emissions. A sign will be posted by the fescue to explain its purpose. Gajewicz realizes the tall grass may look unkept – particularly to people with perfect lawns. But this is an “experiment in sustainability” that can help reduce the city’s environmental footprint, he said. Besides, some people appreciate a more natural look. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “Gardens are always in a state of change,” Gajewicz explained. Since Simpson Garden Park was first created 13 years ago, it has undergone a lot of changes. The healing garden is now designed to nourish visitors’ minds, bodies and souls – instead of just displaying medicinal plants. New bridges and concrete paths have been installed to make the site accessible to people with physical disabilities. And now the park staff wants to make the park more sustainable and responsible, he said. The efforts were praised by Mayor Dick Edwards and City Council member Sandy Rowland. “I so agree with what you’re doing,” Rowland said to Gajewicz. “I like your philosophy on this.” Edwards said he appreciates the Scottish Links. “It’s a constant reminder to me what real golfers have to deal with.” The mayor mentioned that his wife’s first reaction to the tall grass was not exactly positive. However, when the purpose for the fescue was explained, her opinion changed. “Even Nadine likes your Scottish Links,” Edwards said. To explain the unruly grasses to park patrons, Gajewicz wrote the following statement: “Gardens, by definition, are not static but dynamic. They are living, growing, constantly evolving spaces. Each growing year, day, and even minute, every single moment in a garden is in a constant state of change. Visitors to Simpson Garden Park may have noticed over the past eleven years, the “Healing Garden” has changed to accommodate the entire person, their mind, body, and spirit while surrounded by healing plants. The garden is no longer a collection of medicinal plants, but a space meant to nourish the whole visitor. The Holistic Healing Garden is now…


Hostas grow on Hollenbaugh – now up to 925 varieties

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Phil Hollenbaugh can’t walk past a weed without plucking it out of his hosta patch in Simpson Garden Park. His eyes are constantly searching for how to keep the hostas happy. Hollenbaugh didn’t start out being partial to hostas. As a newly-certified master gardener, he was looking for some volunteer hours. He started out weeding the daylilies at Simpson Garden Park, then switched directions. “I took the hosta section because it’s in the shade and close to the parking lot,” Hollenbaugh said with a grin. But then something happened. He fell in love with hostas. That was in 2012, when the Hosta Glen in Simpson Garden Park had about 34 different varieties. Six years and about 2,000 volunteer hours later, the hosta section has 925 different varieties. That puts the Hosta Glen in the top two hosta gardens in the U.S. for most varieties, Hollenbaugh said proudly. And it earned the garden the American Hosta Society Award in 2014, designating it as an “American Hosta Display Garden.” Hollenbaugh credits hosta expert Charlie Harper for cultivating his knowledge and garden. “I saw his garden and fell in love with hostas,” said Hollenbaugh, a retired ironworker. There are nearly 12,000 different varieties of hostas. Their names are as colorful and diverse and the plants. For example, in the BG Hosta Glen, there are varieties named Cracker Crumbs Hosta, Holy Mouse Ears Hosta, Strawberry Yogurt Hosta, Munchkin Fire Hosta, Surfer Girl Hosta, Tick Tock Hosta, Guilt by Association Hosta, Charlotte’s Web Hosta, Alice in Wonderland Hosta, Dancing Queen Hosta, Gumdrop Hosta, Sergeant Pepper Hosta, Curly Fries Hosta, Teeny Weeny Bikini Hosta and Guacamole Hosta. Each variety of hostas in the garden has a name tag. One that gets a lot of attention is the Get Nekkid Hosta. “When the kids see that, they crack up,” Hollenbaugh said. It’s the combination of a great name and a great look that makes a great hosta, he said. Hollenbaugh does have some favorite varieties, he said as he strolled through the garden. “I’m partial to yellow and variegated,” he said. One of his all-time favorites is named Drawn Butter Hosta. The hostas vary from mini to giant sizes. The largest can grow to five feet tall, and seven feet wide. The garden’s national recognition has put it on the map for hosta lovers. Last year, a gardening group from Pennsylvania visited, and next month, a hosta club from Cincinnati is scheduled for a tour. “People come from all over to see the garden now,” he said. And Hollenbaugh isn’t satisfied with the Hosta Glen quite yet. “I want to reach 1,000-plus varieties – then just maintain,” he said. While most hostas are pretty hardy plants that last for years, they do require care. Hollenbaugh spends anywhere from one to seven hours a day working in the garden. There’s a lot of weeding and mulching required in the Hosta Glen that has grown to about 100 by 25 yards. “This keeps me in shape, that’s for sure,” he said. In addition to the plants, Hollenbaugh cut up old sandstone sidewalks to make edging along the garden pathways. He built several sections of woven fence using silver maple saplings from Wintergarden Park. Then there are the pesky invaders that he…


Park district agrees to turn farmland into wetlands

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District will be allowing tiled farmland to revert back to wetlands – with the help of a $301,000 grant. The park district board voted last week to work with the Black Swamp Conservancy, which received the grant, to turn 10 acres of the Carter Historic Farm property into a wetlands area. The decision came despite protests by Tom Carpenter, who farms the land which Sally Loomis donated to the park district. “There was a significant amount of labor in clearing that land,” Carpenter said. But with the grant funding needing to be accepted by July 1, the park board voted to go ahead with the first phase of the wetlands project. “I know that’s not the outcome you wanted,” park board president Denny Parish said to Carpenter after the vote. “But I respect you coming.” Carpenter attended many of the park board meetings where the wetlands project was discussed. “I’m just trying to preserve the farmland that’s already there,” he said. Carpenter pointed out that the acreage being turned into wetlands will have a “very, very minimal” impact on Lake Erie, since an estimated 6 million acres drain into the lake. But the idea of turning down grant funding just didn’t sit well with the park board. “I’m sympathetic to what your position is,” Parish said to Carpenter. “But that money is going to be spent,” Parish said. “It’s either going to be spent in Wood County or it’s going to be spent somewhere else.” With the $301,000, the Black Swamp Conservancy plans to make the 10-acre field into a large “bowl” with small pools to hold water longer. Trees and shrubs will be planted, explained Melanie Coulter and Rob Crain, executive director of the conservancy. Berms along the edges of the wetlands will allow for trails that can be used for educational purposes. Crain said work will likely begin on the acreage as soon as the crops are taken off later this year. The wetlands plan will slow down water into the ditch, which leads to the Touissaint Creek, and then to the Maumee River basin. Instead of field water running straight into the ditch from tiles, it will be filtered, Coulter explained. The original plan called for two 10-acre portions to be converted into wetlands in two phases. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said another option could be to turn the second 10 acres into a wet prairie, which would be much less expensive. But two board members, Tom Myers and Bill Cameron, expressed a desire for the park district to fund the rest of the project, estimated at $148,000 to turn the other 10 acres into wetlands. “I hate to see projects start and then stop,” Cameron said. And Myers noted the recent passage of the park district levy, pointing out that the park board has a duty to invest in its properties. A decision on the next phase will be made at a later date. In other business, the park board gave all year-round employees a 3.5 percent raise, effective July 1. Parish said the board was reluctant to grant raises at the beginning of the year, since it had a levy on the May ballot. However, the overwhelming passage of the…


Wacky Olympics & more as parks & rec summer programs begin

From BOWLING GREEN PARKS & RECREATION Bowling Green Parks and Recreation summer programs kick into gear this week. WACKY  SUMMER OLYMPICS WEEK Boys & Girls, Age 6-12 June 11-June 15  8:00AM–12:00PM $61 Resident $70 Nonresident PRESCHOOL WACKY  SUMMER OLYMPICS WEEK Boys & Girls, Ages 3.5-5.5 June 11-June 15  8:30AM–11:30AM $51 Resident $60 Nonresident Campers will get to compete in some traditional and also some  nontraditional wacky games and contests.  Sure to be fun for everyone involved!  NOTE:  Parents and non camper families are invited and encouraged to come participate in our Family Fun Wacky Olympic Picnic hosted by BG Parks & Recreation Staff on Thursday, June 14th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.  Families can bring their picnic dinner and participate in some fun and wacky competition against other participants. 5 DAYS OF FUN AFTERNOON DAY CAMPS Boys & Girls, Age 6-12 June 11-June 15  1:00PM–5:00PM 61 Resident $70 Nonresident Have your child get to experience a little of everything that Bowling Green Parks & Recreation has to offer in this weekly afternoon camp offered at City Park and get to enjoy plenty of supervised fun at the BG City Pool and Waterpark (weather permitting).  Each day of the week has a different theme.  Kids will report to the Veteran’s Building each day and go to that day’s activities from there as a group. MONDAY FUNDAY  AT THE BG CITY PARK Activities include camp games & ice breakers and  supervised pool & splash pad play (weather permitting).   In case of  inclement weather, the kids will play games and do  arts & crafts projects at the Veteran’s Building. TERRIFIC TUESDAY AT THE VET BUILDING Kids will learn about the importance of health and   wellness and get some guidance on making healthy choices, and participating in some fitness focused   activities as well as get to play various games. WET & WILD WEDNESDAY AT  THE BG CITY POOL & WATERPARK Supervised pool & splash pad play (weather permitting).   In case of inclement weather, the kids will play indoor games and  watch a movie at the Vet building THRILLER  THURSDAYS AT THE VET BUILDING Kids will decorate cupcakes & cookies according to a theme and get to watch a movie while they enjoy their snack as well as get to play various sports and games. FRIDAY FUNDAY AT THE BG CITY PARK & POOL Kids will play their favorite fun outdoor games like  capture the flag, hide behind a tree, tag, etc. followed by supervised pool & splash pad play (weather  permitting).   In case of inclement weather, the kids will play indoor games and  watch a movie at the Vet building OUR NATURAL WORLD Boys & Girls, Age 6-8 June 11-June 15   9:00am–12pm $51 Resident $60 Nonresident Come explore the natural wonders of the Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve! Our nature camp offers a variety of activities to engage campers in the out-of-doors as they learn about plants and animals through hands-on lessons, hikes, games, and arts and crafts projects. Daily themes will engage the children and focus attention on specific nature subjects. Nature’s Nursery, a local animal wildlife rehabilitation center, will visit with their animal ambassadors and an educational program. SAFETY TOWN Boys & Girls, Age 4.5-6 (who have not attended Kindergarten yet) June 11-June 22  9:00am–12pm 8:00am-10:00am or 10:30am-12:30pm $46 Residents $55 Nonresident Every child needs to go through this program, where they…


Art in the Park shines even under cloudy skies

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of the fourth Art in the Park Friday at Simpson Garden Park. It did deter some, but not all, plein air artists. But others came out in force to entertain the attendees, who grew in number as the two-hour event progressed. The rain that arrived mid-afternoon was receding just as folks arrived. So a trio of musicians were heading out to the gazebo. Alice Calderonello, of the BG Arts Council which staged the event with the city Parks and Recreation Department, said the performers took the changes necessitated by the weather in good spirits, even if it meant they were playing in odd corners, and for a shorter period of time. Still by the time the event was wrapping up, musicians had ventured outdoors, and some visitors had wandered off into the garden to admire the garden’s blooms, which are delayed a bit by the cool, wet spring. Phil Hollenbaugh, the volunteer who tends the extensive hosta garden, was on hand checking the plants. Mayor Dick Edwards said that Bowling Green is second only to Dubuque, Iowa, in the number of hosta varieties in its municipal garden. Hollenbaugh said he has 50 more varieties to plant. But he laughed off any competition between the two cities. He’s always happy when people come into the garden to enjoy the plants. Painter Kim Sockman, one of the three artists to arrive to paint outside in the garden, was as close to the outside as she could be while still being inside. The retired art teacher was near the doorway to the Children’s Discovery Garden. With an eye on the weather Thursday, she came out and snapped a photo of the wooden arch in the area. She worked from that image as well as glancing out at the scene. It was good she got a head start on her work because so many people, including her former art students, stopped to chat she wasn’t get a lot of work done. “This is Bowling Green,” she said. “It’s a blast.” That sense of community also attracted newer arrivals to town. Rachel and Phil Beskid were there with their daughters Sylvia and Lucy, who were busy working on a craft project. The family moved to BG about a year ago, and Art in the Park was a way to connect with the community and feel at home, Phil Beskid said. Holli and Jeremy Luring and their children also moved here in the past year. Holi Luring said they came because of the art and music, and the activities for the kids was a bonus. A variety of art activities were provided by the parks department, the Montessori School of Bowling Green, and Jules Webster, owner of Art Supply Depo. They live nearby, she said. “These are beautiful gardens.” Jeremy Luring said the event with its small town feel was a good way to meet people. Flutist Hong-Da Chin returned to have a chance to improvise music with some friends before he moves out of Bowling Green.  He graduated with his doctorate in contemporary music in December and has a teaching position at Western Illinois University. “I just wanted to improvise with them one last time for a long time.” He was joined in the…


BG serving up local pizza at pool, nature paths in park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local pizza at the pool and nature pathways in the parks are just a slice of what Bowling Green City Parks are offering this summer. Forget the former frozen pizza at the pool in City Park. This year, the concession stand will be selling local pizza, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley announced Tuesday during a board meeting. The city received bids from three local pizza shops, so the decision was made to give each business one month at the pool concession stand. The three pizza shops to sell their slices poolside are Pizza Pub 516, Jet’s and Domino’s. Customers are allowed to order concession stand food without paying for entrance to the pool. The pool is scheduled to open this Saturday for the summer season. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held at a shelter house in Carter Park, park naturalist Chris Gajewicz talked about the natural area in the center of Carter Park. While much of the focus at the park is on the baseball fields and Frisbee golf, an area in the park has been allowed to grow up naturally. Paths have been mowed in the woodlot so people can walk through and check out the wildflowers. “It gives Carter Park not just the manicured look,” but also a bit of nature, Gajewicz said. People can often be seen walking through the woodlot. “It shows the power of nature – even the littlest piece of nature can pull them in,” he said. Gajewicz also announced that the recent burn in the nature preserve and birding program offered at Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve were very successful. He also talked about the plants sprouting up in Simpson Garden Park and the healing garden there. “Keep coming out to the gardens, because it’s changing all the time,” he said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, recreation coordinator Ivan Kovacevic talked about the start of several summer park programs. Lunch in the Park kicks off on June 1, and continues every Friday through July in City Park. The annual Art in the Park is set for June 8, from 5 to 7 p.m., in Simpson Garden Park. And Concerts in the Park start on June 10 at Needle Hall in City Park. Also planned is a Farmers Market Mile Fun Run and Vegetable Relay 5K Race on June 13 at 5:30 p.m. The next park and rec board meeting will be June 26, at 7 p.m., in the Girl Scout Building in City Park.


BG City Park building plans call for patience

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Kristin Otley drove past City Park on Monday, she almost pulled in to chew out some people doing work in the park. Then it hit her, “Wait, that’s a survey truck,” she said. “Poggemeyer started surveying City Park yesterday,” Otley, Bowling Green’s Park and Recreation Director, said Tuesday during a park board meeting. Otley also announced that the city will be contracting with Schorr Architects for the new City Park building. Schorr specializes in historical-type structures and designed the new building last year. That was the good news of the evening. The bad news is that the timeline has shifted for the project. “There’s no way we’ll have everything designed” and ready to go by August, she said. The original plans were to tear down the three buildings near the entrance of City Park – the Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building, and Depot – then start construction so the new building replacing the aging structures would be ready for use by summer of 2019. However, Otley said that much to her disappointment, that timeline is just too tight and unrealistic. The new timeline calls for the old buildings to be torn down next winter. Construction will be delayed until March of 2019, since the costs of winter construction are much higher and the city does not want to rush the project, Otley told the board. That means the parks and recreation department won’t have City Park buildings to schedule events in next summer. But Otley reassured the board that there are ample facilities in the city’s 11 parks to hold programming. The new goal is to have the City Park building completed by summer of 2020. That also means that the existing buildings in City Park are now available for rentals and programming for a longer period. Originally, rentals of the buildings were cut off in mid-August since demolition was scheduled to occur then. However, the buildings are now available for rentals through Jan. 13, 2019. That extra time will give city residents time for a “farewell tour” of the buildings, Otley said. Though disappointed in the delay, Otley said she is pleased the city is working with Schorr Architects, and that the firm has contracted with the local Poggemeyer Design Group. “I’m excited that it’s moving forward,” she said. “We want to make sure we do everything right.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said the decision to slow down the process was “very prudent.” The contract price with Schorr Architects is $317,500 – a bit lower than the expected cost of $320,000. Earlier this year, city approved the sale of $3.75 million in bonds to pay for tearing down the three old buildings and constructing the one new facility in City Park. The new building will have adequate space for programming, storage, air conditioning, ADA accessibility, ample parking and an attractive design that reflects the historic nature of City Park. In other business at Tuesday’s park and rec meeting, the board bid farewell to long-time member Cheryl Windisch, who has served as liaison between the board and the parks and recreation foundation. “Cheryl is a great worker and a great cheerleader,” Otley said. “I sincerely appreciate you.” Windisch also shared her appreciation for Otley. “Kristin keeps us so well informed,”…


Electric bikes to be allowed on Slippery Elm Trail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District is planning to open up the Slippery Elm Trail to a new type of traveler – one that may not sweat as much as they pedal against the wind. On Tuesday, the park commissioners voted to go along with Ohio House Bill 250, which allows electric assist bicycles on bike paths that were previously off-limits to anything with an electric motor. The bill permits electric bikes that hit top speeds of 20 mph, but not the more powerful type that go as fast as 28 mph. The reason for allowing the electric bikes is simple, according to Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. “It opens the trails up to a whole different segment of population,” those who cannot ride regular bicycles, he said. “This will give them an opportunity to get out there again,” Munger said. “Let’s see how it works out.” The electric bikes work using a small battery motor, said chief park ranger Todd Nofzinger. “I don’t see it being an issue at all,” Nofzinger said. “It’s electric, so it’s totally silent.” The bikes are quite expensive, Munger said, costing two or three times as much as a regular bicycle. So they will likely be rather rare on the bike trail. “I don’t see any issue with this as well,” he said. The electric bikes will not cause hazards due to their speed, since many bicyclists can pedal as fast as 20 mph, Munger added. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board heard a report from Eric Scott, coordinator of the stewardship program, which focuses on managing the park land. The stewardship staff analyzes the park land and then creates plans for the different properties. The park district has a wide range of land types to care for, Scott said, including woodlots, prairie and wetlands. One of the biggest problems in maintaining the land is intrusion by invasive species of plants, like garlic mustard. Also affecting the land is climate change and encroaching development, Scott said. Options for controlling the sites include prescribed burns of the prairies, mowing, weeding, cutting, herbicides, pesticides and water. The district also works on seed collecting and planting. The district relies on volunteers to help with projects like seed cleaning and planting, Scott said. The stewardship goal is to maintain economic prosperity while sustaining the natural systems. “We want to please the public, but we also want to protect nature,” Scott said. In addition to working with plants, the stewardship program also works to introduce quail and honey bees. The public is encouraged to “adopt-a-garden,” and monitoring programs keep an eye on native plants, streams and butterflies. In other business at meeting, the board accepted the lowest bid of $20,648 for a ranger utility vehicle, from Honda East in Maumee. The vehicle is ideal for operating on the Slippery Elm Trail, Munger said.


Arts to take over Simpson Garden, June 8

From THE BOWLING GREEN ARTS COUNCIL The Bowling Green Arts Council and Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department will host the 4th annual Art in the Park on the grounds of Simpson Garden Park, 1291 Conneaut Avenue, on Friday, June 8, from 5-7 p.m. Festive fun in a beautiful garden setting with live music, theatrical performances, artists painting on easels, interactive art activities for children and light refreshments. free and open to the public. As they stroll through beautiful Simpson Garden Park, attendees will have an opportunity to view and vote for their favorite artist at work. They will also enjoy music by local musicians and students of the BGSU College of Musical Arts and performances by the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. The Black Swamp Players will present a readers’ theater performance of an excerpt from “Peanuts and Crackerjacks” by Scott Regan at 5:50 in the Amphitheater. Also in the Amphitheater, Horizon Youth Theatre will present two excerpts from the musical “Dorothy in Wonderland” at 5:15 and at 6:30. Strolling and stationary musicians and music groups throughout the grounds will include The Root Cellar String Band; Tom Gorman; Toraigh an Sonas; Inside Voices; Black Swamp Drum Circle; and Kazenodaichi Taiko. Immediately after Art in the Park, the Sunset Bistro, 1220 W. Wooster, will host a post-event celebration from 7-10 pm and donate 15% to the BG Arts Council. This event is sponsored by Bowling Green Arts Council and Bowling Green Parks & Recreation with additional support from Montessori School of Bowling Green, the Art Supply Depo of Bowling Green, the BGSU Fine Arts Galleries, the BGSU School of Music, and Sunset Bistro.


Park farmland may be allowed to revert to wetlands

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Twenty acres of farmland north of Bowling Green may be allowed to return to its former state as part of the Great Black Swamp. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger is excited about the park acreage becoming a piece of history and a habitat for wetland wildlife. But the man who has farmed the acreage for four decades isn’t sold on the change. Tom Carpenter doesn’t need the 20 acres for his livelihood. But as a farmer, it just grates on him that well-drained land will be forced back to its wetland roots. And during an open house on the wetlands plan last week, Carpenter didn’t mince words. “Our goal is to keep it farmland,” he said. The 20 acres sit in the back property of the Carter Historic Farm. Other acreage on the farmstead will continue to be farmed. The wetlands project, as proposed by the Black Swamp Conservancy and designed by Hull and Associates, would render 20 acres of farmland unfarmable in the future. The wetlands would have several benefits, according to Melanie Coulter, of the Black Swamp Conservancy. It would filter runoff before it goes into the nearby Toussaint Creek. It would provide habitat for wetlands habitat. And it would give the public a place to view swamp-like conditions that once covered this region. The drain tiles currently in the 20 acres would be blocked to allow the land to flood, explained Jordan Rofkar, of Hull and Associates. Dirt would be moved to create low areas for water and mounds for native trees and shrubs. “The intent is to create a mixture of habitats,” Rofkar said. The small open ponds should attract turtles and frogs, along with birds like herons, ducks and woodcocks, Coulter said. The wetlands should also benefit the water quality for one of the streams that flows into the Maumee River “area of concern,” designated by the U.S. and Ohio EPA, she said. “Wetlands are known to do a lot of water filtration,” she said. For Munger, showing park visitors the historic farm’s previous state and “recreating the Great Black Swamp” is a great opportunity. The park district’s trail through the nearby wooded area may be expanded into the wetlands – possibly as a boardwalk, he said. He is hoping the bulk of the estimated $300,000 cost to transform the area into wetlands will come from grant funding. The proposal will be presented to the park district board of commissioners next for their decision to proceed or not. Carpenter hopes the park board will reconsider. He believes that Sally Loomis Carter, who gave her family’s farm to the park district, would not have wanted the farmland to return to swamp. After all, her family worked hard to drain the acreage so it could be fertile farmland “This is not something she would have wanted to do,” Carpenter said during the open house on the plans. But Munger disputed that viewpoint. Family members and former park staff who knew her, feel that Carter would have been pleased with the plan. Carpenter suggested that if the goal is to keep the waterways clean, that a buffer strip be planted along the ditch. He also quoted the Black Swamp Conservancy’s mission statement, which addresses protecting farmland. “This is…


County parks levy takes a hike with levy victory

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As voters where casting their ballots, the Wood County Park District board was holding its monthly meeting in the Bradner Preserve. It was a perfect day to be in a park. Sun was shining. Trees were budding. The park board was hoping that feeling would continue into the evening when the votes were counted. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” said park board president Denny Parish. There was no need for caution, since the voters showed that they supported the county park district’s mission by approving the 1-mill renewal levy by 74 percent. The unofficial count was 14,462 to 5,207. The park board was worried of other financial competition on Tuesday’s ballot. “We were concerned there would be several financial issues on the ballot,” Parish said. “But it’s obvious tonight that people who support the parks, support the parks.” The key to such overwhelming support could have been that the park district stuck with its 1-mill levy, rather than increasing its millage. For the last decade, the levy has generated about $2.8 million a year. That amount is expected to grow to $3 million a year because of new construction in the county. Or it could have been all the park district offers for residents. The county park district has grown to 20 different parks, with 1,125 acres, open 365 days a year. “I think it’s just the good work that the people I work with everyday do for the parks,” said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. The park district may have also won such support by showing voters that it listens to their suggestions. Based on resident requests, new programming has been added – both educational and adventure activities, Munger said. “Everybody likes what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’ll keep listening to the public to see what they want to see for their parks.” Park district adventure activities include archery, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, geo-caching, hunting, rock rappelling, bicycling and bouldering. Programs are offered throughout the year, including classes on wildlife, bird migration, nature photography, stream studies, fire building, seed cleaning, beekeeping, trees, yoga, tai chi and camping. There are also full moon walks, senior nature hikes, wildflower walks, and summer nature camps. The park district also shares its wealth, with small community parks in the county. The district awards $100,000 a year to local parks for such items as playground equipment, restrooms, or ADA accommodations. During the last several years, the park district has focused funding on land acquisitions.  But that focus is about to shift. “I think we’re looking at a maintenance phase,” Munger said. But don’t think the park district won’t continue to grow – it’s just that they will do so with different funding sources like grants. “I wouldn’t say we’re going to sit back on our laurels,” Munger said. And now the park district can start planning for the future, Parish said. The Wood County Park District currently has 20 sites throughout the county, including Adam Phillips Pond, Baldwin Woods Preserve, Bradner Preserve, Beaver Creek Preserve, Black Swamp Preserve, Buttonwood Recreation Area, Carter Historic Farm, Cedar Creeks Preserve, Fuller Preserve, William Henry Harrison Park, W.W. Knight Preserve, Otsego Park, Reuthinger Memorial Preserve, Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve, Slippery Elm Trail, Rudolph Savanna Area, Cricket Frog Cove Area,…