Five major developers over the past 15 years have promised the East Side a bustling Marina District on the Maumee River. None have delivered.
“A lot of promises have been made on that property. None of them made by us,” Scott Carpenter, director of public relations for the Metroparks Toledo, recently told members of the East Toledo Club at its monthly luncheon. “We’ll follow through.”
The Metroparks announced in June it would develop a park on the riverfront. It will feature walkways, overlooks and access to the river, Carpenter said. Metroparks will acquire the land from ProMedica, the newest owner of a 69-acre parcel. When that happens, the Metroparks will come one step closer to its goal of having one of its parks within five miles of any Lucas County resident.
While commercial development has lagged in Northwest Ohio since the 2007-2008 recession, park development has surged. Carpenter said Metroparks has opened four new parks in the last two years — Wiregrass Lake, Westwinds, Fallen Timbers Battleground and The Middlegrounds. Prior to this spate of openings, the last park established was Wildwood, 40 years ago.
Howard Marsh in Jerusalem Township is also scheduled to open late this year with a grand opening slated for 2018. At slightly under 1,000 acres it will be the second largest park in the system behind Oak Openings’ 5,000 acres.
Carpenter said the park will feature six miles of kayak and canoe trails and five miles of hiking trails. Access to Lake Erie will be via Ward’s Canal.
Metroparks’ officials, thanks to a land acquisition levy passed by voters in 2002, have been on a drive to purchase land to create green corridors between its 15 parks. One such corridor will be between The Marina District and the newly-developed Middlegrounds in downtown Toledo. Carpenter said it expects the park district to eventually work with the City of Toledo, the City of Oregon and Jerusalem Township to connect the Marina District with Pearson Park and Howard Farms via a bike trail.
Not only will bike trails connect the parks, Metroparks, in conjunction with TARTA, will offer three to seven bikes for rent at each of 17 locations in the East Toledo-Downtown area. The stations will be located as far east as the National Museum of the Great Lakes in the Marina District and as far west as the Toledo Art Museum. While a pricing scheduled hasn’t been formulized, Carpenter said one city with such a bike-share program charges $8 for a 24-hour pass.
Prospective riders can reserve and pay for a bike on line. The smart bike has a computer system on the handlebars that includes a wireless tracking system and an automated locking system to prevent theft.
Funding for 100 bikes and locking stations come from a federal grant program to encourage alternative transportation. The grant provided $262,400 of the program’s initial cost of $328,450, with the Metroparks contributing approximately $66,000. Monthly costs to operate the system is estimated at $3,300. TARTA will administer the program once it’s up and running sometime this summer.
The bike share program is another asset for our quality of life, Carpenter said. He anticipates tourists and those who want to enjoy a couple of hours biking will use the system.
Similar bike share programs are available in other cities including Dayton and Columbus.