Dave Zenk, superintendent in charge of maintenance for the Metroparks of the Toledo Area's operations division, says Oregon’s Pearson Park is in for a $498,396 capital improvement renovation slated to begin in 2010.
The projects will affect the original Pearson and the new 300-acre Pearson North expansion. Six more contracts will be bid over the next six years totaling another $100,000, Zenk said.
A one and three-quarter mile hiking and biking trail will be constructed in Pearson North that will travel alongside the 3,000 foot long Heckman Creek. The trail is designed to be positioned on the outside looking in towards the park, and is expected to be completed this year.
The trail is being funded by a $270,000 Clean Ohio Grant through the state’s Department of Natural Resources, with about $68,000 in funds being matched by the Metroparks. Zenk said bids coming in for the trail’s construction are one-third less than the original estimates.
Zenk added the Metroparks has just finished a two-year physical assessment study of its capital assets in the original parts of Pearson.
The end result will include a $65,500-70,000 renovation of Macomber Lodge, which will need American Disabilities Act improvements, new electrical systems, and an evaluation of the lodge’s parking.
Another $70,000 has been budgeted for a pond retaining wall to improve paddleboat safety. Zenk added that Pearson’s playground shelter will get a facelift, costing about $18,000. Money has also been set aside for crime prevention, environmental design, and playground design studies.
A state grant will provide for new public restrooms to be located east of the Johlin Cabin in Pearson North. The restroom area will be linked to the cabin, but Zenk said there is no timeline yet when construction will begin.
Zenk expects most of these projects to begin in late summer.
Metroparks program manager Becky Finch said the historic Johlin Cabin at Pearson North will remain open every other Sunday starting this spring. She said after it originally opened during Pearson’s 75-year anniversary celebration, and at first about 25 people arrived to tour the cabin each Sunday. By the end of November 2009, it was closer to 75 new tourists each Sunday.
In addition, the Metroparks have partnered to include the Johlin Cabin with the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society’s tour of distinctive homes.
Ash borer damage
Landscape improvements, in part to remove the effects of the emerald ash borer, will cost another $55,000. The Metroparks included $16,400 specifically for ash tree hazard removal, but far more money is arriving from a federal grant.
A $1.3 million urban ecosystem restoration project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is beginning now through December 12 to remove dead or dying ash trees infested by the borer. The invasive Asian beetle has killed tens of millions of ash trees in 12 states and two Canadian provinces since 2002.
“The emerald ash borer has been devastating and it could not have come at a worse time because of the current economic challenges,” said Tim Gallaher, Metroparks land management supervisor. “This project will allow us to remove hazardous trees more quickly than we would have been able to do with our own resources. This is important because of the number of dead ash trees we are seeing in the Metroparks.”
Most contracts within this grant are specifically for tree removal, while others are for restoration management.
The work will be overseen by two new crew leaders added to the Metropark’s staff. Crews from T&J Tree Service were to begin work this month and additional contractors will be hired as the project progresses. During this project period, trails will be closed and detours posted.
“You can see some of the emerald ash borer damage in the ash trees, as well as start seeing some of them that are becoming dead and dying and will be coming down in the windstorms,” said John Jaeger, retired director of natural resources for the Metroparks. “You could see them walking around on snow blown days, and a lot on summer days.”
Zenk said within three years the park system expects all of the ash trees to be dead.
Jaeger believes there is a need to better control invasive species and keep all natural habitats in the park native.
“That’s a real problem,” Jaeger said. “We have 10 different projects around the state. It’s easy to control what’s in our own yard, but the next thing you know you can travel down a highway and you can see a whole row of invasive plants growing there. It’s really important.”