A thin strip of grassy land between Wilber Street and Ardsley Road in the Village of Walbridge is poised to become a passive park with a walking path.
Already called Rehton Park on the village website, the land was the subject of a recent meeting of village council’s Parks, Recreation and Community Events Committee that included committee members as well as residents living near the strip of land.
Ryan Weaver, committee chairman, said he scheduled the meeting at the site to make it easier for nearby residents to offer their input.
“It’s important for me not to be the guy who comes in with certain ideas and tries to ram them down everybody’s throats. I want this to be something that the people who live back there and have to see it everyday appreciate. I live about a block away, but they’re going to have to live right next to it. So I want to make sure whatever we do it enhances their lives too,” Weaver said.
Residents weren’t reluctant about expressing their concerns, including maintaining privacy, noise, ATVs being driven on the property, unsupervised children and more. However, by the end of the meeting, a majority of those in attendance agreed developing the park could actually improve home values and should be pursued, Weaver said, adding they also asked for more information, including drawings or models to help visualize development plans.
The committee is scheduled to next meet April 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the village administration building.
In general, Weaver envisions a gravel walking path around part of the perimeter of the property and adding more trees and plants that are native to Ohio.
“There is still the question of what to do with the center,” he said. “That’s where I really don’t want to make any decisions on my own with this. Should there be a little playground? Do the people want a gazebo? Some have even mentioned a fountain, although I don’t think that would work out logistically for us. Should we just keep it grass or maybe plant a big weeping willow tree? “Right now we’re focusing on a path and some plantings and we’ll leave the rest for a future time. We’ve had people suggest a community garden or maybe a pumpkin patch. I’m all for it but we need to make sure we have the people to put in the work.”
Mayor Ed Kolanko said funds for improvements to the park could be allocated in the budget if they are approved by village council.
“Depending on what the committee comes up with it could be a multi-year plan or a one-year plan,” the mayor said. “I’m kind of excited to see what they decide and what their plan will be.”
Grants are also a possibility for covering some of the costs, according to Weaver, who said the land was left to the village by the Rehton family.