Bowling Green City Park

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.

Help sought solving time capsule mystery in City Park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is being asked to help solve the puzzle of a mystery time capsule buried in City Park. (See update.) The time capsule, covered in concrete with a rock on top, has been there long enough to have been forgotten. It has gone basically unnoticed for years – except by the person mowing around it. But earlier this week when city park staff and the architects for the new City Park building walked around the site for the new structure, they happened upon the mystery memorial. “Somebody told me at some point that it was a time capsule,” Natural Resources Coordinator for BG Parks Chris Gajewicz said. The engraving in the concrete has a date, though the year is particularly difficult to read. The date appears to be Oct. 2, but the year could be 1958 or 1969 – or anything in between. “It’s so worn, it’s really hard to tell,” Gajewicz said. “It’s one of those institutionalized knowledge things that’s gone,” Gajewicz said. The mystery time capsule would be allowed to rest there undisturbed, except that it is sitting in the footprint of the new City Park building being constructed next year. Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green City Parks and Recreation Department, is confident the city will be able to solve the mystery. She suspects the time capsule is referenced somewhere in old park board minutes. “There may be records. We just haven’t dug them up – pun intended,” Otley said. 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. But so far, the time capsule under the rock is the only unknown in the construction footprint. “It’s the only mystery,” Otley said. Seeing that Oct. 2 is the anniversary of the time capsule burial – though the year is unknown – Otley said that date might be a good time to unearth the capsule and see what’s inside. Gajewicz has posted a photo of the time capsule site on Facebook in hopes of jogging some memories of longtime townies. So far, the responses have been more humorous than helpful. “That’s just before I was born. Maybe it was to commemorate me,” one person posted. Another predicted that unearthing the site would not reveal a casket. And another asked “Where’s Lyle Fletcher when we need him,” a reference to a long-gone historian, who could recall just about everything about Bowling Green. So since Fletcher is gone, it’s up to the rest of Bowling Green to dig into their memory banks to solve the time capsule mystery.

City Park building name may split honor with veterans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like the structure it is replacing, the new building planned for City Park will be a salute to veterans. A resolution drafted for Bowling Green City Council suggests that the new building keep the old name – the Veterans Building. The park board agrees that the name should reflect the same reverence to veterans. However, always being conscious of the use of taxpayer funds, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley is also looking at ways to make the most of public funding. So at a recent park and recreation board meeting, Otley suggested that the city consider sharing naming rights with major donors toward the new building. By asking for donations for the project, the city could more quickly pay off the $3.75 million in bonds for tearing down the old buildings and putting up the new one. Community residents and organizations may be interested in sponsoring the building or specific rooms in the building, Otley said. The name sharing would not detract from the focus on veterans, she assured. Plans are already in place for the lobby to be a place dedicated to veterans memorabilia. Sometime in January or February, the three buildings near the entrance of City Park – the Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building, and Depot – will be demolished. The three buildings will be replaced with one new building, with construction likely to begin in March of 2019. The goal is to have the new City Park building completed by summer of 2020. The city is working on the project with Schorr Architects, a firm that specializes in new buildings that reflect historic values.  The architectural firm has contracted with the local Poggemeyer Design Group. 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. Also at last week’s meeting, the board had a preliminary discussion about raising fees for park and recreation events. The proposal asks for 3 percent increases for most programming and events. The program fees were last increased in 2016. No rate increases are planned for the community center or classes there. The board will likely take action on the fee hikes in September, so City Council can vote on the changes in October. That would allow the new rates to be in place for 2019. Rates to rent park facilities may also be increased, since they have not been changed since 2015. The proposed rate hikes are $5 to $10, Otley said. The board is also considering bumping up “support rates” for groups like the Horizon Youth Theatre, which rents facilities at reduced rates now. The $25 charge may be increased to $30 to help cover costs. To help other community non-profit groups, the board is considering offering a reduced rate for organizations using facilities for fundraisers or programs that benefit the community.

BG seeks old photos to give final salute to Veterans Building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board took a farewell tour of the Veterans Building in City Park Tuesday evening. Members pointed out items that won’t be missed when the building is torn down later this year – the carpeted walls, lack of ADA restrooms, buckling floors, water damage, inadequate electric, lack of air conditioning and crumbling block walls. There is no storage space, so tables and chairs are stacked in the open. There are holes that let varmints inside – including a skunk that visited during a recent rental. The demolition of the Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building and the Depot Building are all scheduled for mid-August. Then construction will begin on a new City Park building, which will have adequate space for programming, storage, air conditioning, ADA accessibility, and an attractive design that reflects the historic nature of City Park. On Tuesday evening, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported to the board that requests for qualifications for the new building are due this week. “That will be very exciting,” she said. Though the aging Veterans Building has outlived its usefulness, Otley said the city still wants to pay homage to the role it played in the community – as a place where families celebrated birthdays, organizations held chili-cook-offs, and residents tried to jazzercise off some pounds. So Otley is asking that as local residents do their spring cleaning, if they come upon photographs of those special moments at the Veterans Building, that they share those photos with the Parks and Recreation Department. “So many life moments happened in this building,” Otley said. And she is hoping some of the old photos can be displayed in the new building. Otley asked that a couple park board members volunteer to look over the architectural plans for the new building as the project nears. “You are representatives of the community and have different takes on things,” she said. Once the buildings are torn down in mid-August, the plan is for the new building to get framed in before winter. “They’ll be able to work through the nasty weather,” Otley said. If all goes according to plans, the building will be completed by the spring of 2019. “I think it’s doable,” Otley said. In other business, the park board: Re-elected Jeff Crawford as president. Learned the annual membership breakfast will be May 19, at 9 a.m., in the Rotary Nature Center in Wintergarden Park. Approved Jodi Anderson as a new member of the park foundation board of trustees. Heard that the newly renovated nature center is open again for rentals. Learned from naturalist Chris Gajewicz that the second annual seed exchange was well attended. “Garden people get pretty excited this time of the year,” he said. Heard from Gajewicz that recent programs on Bigfoot and birding were hits. Got a report from Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator, about new programming including an “escape” event, and about the success of a recent Day Off School program. The annual Adult Egg Scramble is set for April 6, and the Super Hero obstacle course event is partnering with Wood County foster care program on April 21. Learned the parks and recreation summer brochure should be available electronically by the end of the week.

BG to save as many trees as possible near new City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Before the new City Park building goes up, some of the trees in the park will need to come down. But special effort is being made to save as many of the bigger trees that have been there for decades, and the smaller trees that were planted there as memorials by families. Later this summer, the aging Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building and Depot building will be demolished to make room for one new building near the entrance of City Park. As plans were discussed last year about the new building, residents were assured that efforts would be made to save as many trees as possible at the building site. Park and Recreation Department Director Kristin Otley noted at the last park board meeting that many of the memorial trees at the site can be saved. Of the six memorial trees, five will be moved to other locations in City Park. “That is fantastic,” she said. “We are going to be able to move almost all of them to places in City Park.” The trees will be transplanted later this winter or in early spring, when the ground is frozen and the trees are dormant. The memorial markers will be moved with the trees. “There are some locations where we actually need trees” in the park, Otley said. “The fact that we can move those to even a better spot in the park where we need them is pretty great.” The Parks and Recreation Department has reached out to the families who had the trees planted in memory of loved ones to make them aware of the plans. City Arborist Grant Jones said the memorial trees being transplanted are healthy oak, beech and maple. The largest is seven inches in diameter. “They are trees that are still small enough to survive if put someplace else,” Jones said. “They will stay there in City Park.” Those transplanted trees will get more water and care for the next couple summers. “They will need a little extra T.L.C.,” he said. There will, however, be a few larger trees in City Park that will likely need to come down for the new building. According to Jones, it looks like two large maples and two large oaks will need to be removed. “They are too big to try to move,” he said. “There are also some other small to medium sized trees in the project footprint that will likely be removed.” The city is working with the building planners to keep as many trees as possible. And more landscaping will be added to the area once the new building is in place, Otley said.

New City Park building to help celebrate ‘life moments’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The aging Veterans Building in City Park has seen its share of “community life moments.” The building has hosted generations of birthday parties, baby showers, wedding receptions and family reunions. It has witnessed square dancing lessons, euchre game nights, and pint size proms. But its days are numbered, with its crumbling block walls, leaks, lack of air conditioning, and lack of ADA accessibility. There is no storage space, so tables and chairs are stacked in the open. There are holes that let varmints inside – including a skunk that visited during a recent rental. In order to continue offering a place for “community life moments,” the city is preparing for the sale of $3.75 million in bonds that will pay for tearing down three old buildings and constructing one new facility in City Park. On the demolition list in addition to the Veterans Building, are two much smaller structures – the Girl Scout Building and the Depot Building – all near the entrance to City Park. On Tuesday evening, the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board got another look at the initial plans for the new building, which will have adequate space for programming, storage, air conditioning, ADA accessibility, and an attractive design that reflects the historic nature of City Park. Park and Recreation Director Kristin Otley stressed that the park levy passed by Bowling Green voters last year included money to pay off the bonds for this building project. “We are not asking people for additional money for this project,” she said. The construction has a “fairly tight timeline” to minimize interruption with park programming, Otley explained. The architecture and engineering firms should be hired by February, with bids being awarded in July. Construction should begin in mid-August next year, so the project will be completed by mid-spring in 2019. The replacement of three smaller buildings totaling 8,000 square feet, with one totaling 12,000 square feet will allow for improved traffic flow at the park entrance, and for a larger parking area with 100 spots. The additional parking will be useful not only for those using the new building, but also for those using the pool or ballfield, Otley said. It’s not unusual for all the parking spots in City Park to be used during events. The new building will also be as energy efficient as the city can afford. “We’re parks and rec. We value our environment,” Otley said. Even in its poor condition, the Veterans Building is in demand. In 2016, the facility was reserved for 272 events including park programs and rentals. Rentals brought in $8,000 that year. The Scout Building, which is used for voting plus smaller events like baby showers, was used 115 times in 2016, bringing in $4,000 in rental fees. Both buildings are the site of “lots of important family and community moments,” Otley said. Board member Cale Hover agreed. “City Park is very important to this community,” he said. The new building – which has no name yet – will have three separate reservable spaces with kitchens, so multiple events can be held at the same time. The largest space will be able to handle 250 people. Otley said the park and rec office gets about three requests a month for rental of…

Once forgotten veterans memorial restored in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As they waited for the rededication of Bowling Green’s veterans memorial in City Park on Monday, Brian Craft and Mike Hammer could not help but reflect on the ironic path of the monument. The memorial was originally dedicated in 1931 “in honor of the veterans of all wars.” At its base were the engraved words, “Bowling Green has not forgotten.” But somewhere over that last 86 years, that’s exactly what happened. The memorial, near the entrance of City Park, was surrounded by arbor vitae, with a canopy of branches growing over the top. “We knew it was there,” said Brian Craft, director of the city’s public service department. “But when you came in to the park, you couldn’t see anything. The eagle at the top was in sorry shape.” So Craft, along with Mike Hammer from the public works department, took it upon themselves to do exactly what the memorial asked of them. “It was forgotten, which is ironic since the plaque at the bottom said, ‘Bowling Green will not forget,’” Craft said. The public service, electric division, and city arborist worked to cut back the overgrown plants, tuckpoint the stone wall, install lighting and flagpoles, and had the eagle at the top returned to its gold coloring. “They just took ownership of it,” Mayor Dick Edwards said of the public works department. “I really give credit to them. Bowling Green has not forgotten.” The history of the 1931 memorial was difficult to dig up. But American Legion members Dave Ridenour and Dick Conrad dusted off as much information as possible. “One of the oldest members of our legion post remembered playing around it on his way to school,” Ridenour said. The records showed that veterans from the Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I took part in the dedication. The monument now adds to memory those who served in World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq and Afghanistan. Ridenour thanked Craft and Hammer for their efforts. “I believe we are living up to the inscription at the base of the memorial,” Ridenour said. “Bowling Green has not forgotten.” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, spoke about the original dedication in 1931. None of those who took part in the ceremony are living today. But the monument has regained its place of prominence. “This is again another example of what Bowling Green does right,” Gardner said. The original memorial was possible with funding raised by the Exchange Club. Jennifer Swope, the club’s current president, talked about the group’s continued support of Americanism. “We owe a debt of gratitude” to those honored by the memorial, Swope said. Edwards also took a moment to reflect on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. “May we always remember what happened 16 years ago at this hour when we lost so many of our fellow Americans, when our vulnerabilities as a nation were exposed, when our first responders put the needs of others first as they are trained and committed to do.” He also repeated praise for the city’s public works department, which “recognized the need to rediscover this overgrown and neglected memorial site and to return it to its more fitting original state of appearance.” Wreaths for different generations of veterans were placed…

Plans revealed for new building in BG City Park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By this time next year, the Veterans Building and Girl Scout Building in Bowling Green City Park may be reduced to piles of rubble. In their place a new building will be constructed. The community got a sneak peak at the new City Park building plans Tuesday evening. The drawings were displayed in the stifling heat of the Veterans Building, and portrayed a design much different than the existing structure. The new building won’t be unbearable in the heat, it won’t have cracks in the walls, it won’t have crumbling blocks, and it won’t have mold on the ceiling. “It’s an idea whose time has come,” said Bob Callecod. “I’m very impressed with the design.” The new building will incorporate design elements of the historic depot at the park entrance and Needle Hall which stands next to the Veterans Building. “This building will add so much vitality,” Callecod said. “It will be a wonderful view as you come into the park.” Joan Callecod appreciated the flexibility of space in the new building, which includes a catering kitchen. “It’s very attractive,” she said. The new building is estimated to cost $4.5 million – with that price including furnishing, landscaping and moving of the depot building to another location. The city parks and recreation department will not be seeking new money for the project, explained Kristin Otley, director of the department. “It did not make sense to keep pouring money into these buildings,” she said. The city passed a park and rec levy recently, with the thought of using some of those funds to pay off bonds for the new building. “We’re not asking for additional money for this,” Otley said. Plans for the new building were presented by Larry Rancour, of Schorr Architects. Following are some details of the project: The park entrance will be squared off on Conneaut Avenue. The number of parking spaces for the building will increase from 37 to 137. Efforts will be made to save as many trees as possible. “We want to keep the majority of the trees,” Rancour said. The Depot building near the entrance of the park will be relocated. The new building will be 12,000 square feet, compared to the current 5,700 square feet in the Veterans Building. A large meeting room will be able to accommodate 250 people. Two smaller meeting rooms will be able to seat 64 each. The building will feature large windows and a patio off the large meeting room. The overall concept of the building is based on Needle Hall and the Depot. There will be a delivery entrance for catering, a warming kitchen, and a serving window. Stone from the Girl Scout Building fireplace may be used as the base for a raised stage in the large meeting room. One room will be set aside for teen activities. An office is planned with space for three employees. LEED energy efficiency will be part of the design. Otley said the building will not forget the history of the site. Plans are being made to reflect the park’s past. “We anticipate kind of paying homage to what came before,” she said. Because the existing buildings are used for summer park and rec programs, plans call for the construction to begin…

Public invited to see plans for new City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Beloved though they may be, two old buildings in City Park are near the end of their long lives. But Bowling Green Park and Recreation officials are hopeful that their replacement will stir the same affections from city residents. Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley knows it will be tough for some local residents to say goodbye the Veterans Building and the Girl Scout Building. However, she is hoping once residents see plans for the new building, they will be sold. The plans call for one building to take the place and serve the purposes of the two other buildings. The architects are working on a concept plan to show the public on Aug. 22, in the larger meeting room at the Veterans Building. An open house meeting with the plans will be held from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by a more formal presentation of the plans at 6 p.m. The parks and recreation board will then hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Building. The drawings will likely be on display in the community center for a period after Aug. 22 to give more people a chance to view them. “We’re really, really excited. It’s coming along well,” Otley said Tuesday evening, during the park and recreation board’s meeting. In addition to getting a peek at the building plans, the architects should have some cost estimates available. The earliest the construction can start is mid-August of 2018. The existing buildings are needed for summer programming in City Park, so they can’t be demolished until the end of summer, Otley said. The aging buildings are not worth sinking renovation dollars into, Otley said. So Schorr Architects, of the Columbus area, is designing one larger building with adequate space for programming, storage, ADA accessibility, air conditioning, and an attractive design that reflects the historic nature of the park. The architects have taken note of the historic Needle Hall and stone wall in the park, Otley said. “They were immediately looking at Needle Hall and talking about tying in the look,” she said. “It will bring the park together.” Without revealing many details about the new building, Otley said it will have a better flow and improved parking. “It’s really an amazing opportunity” to get a building that is efficient and aesthetically pleasing, she said. The new building will be used for programming, and as a rental facility for a reasonable price, Otley said.