Chamber raising funds for new playground
Plans for a new playground at Pearson Metropark call for more than the typical swings and slides. The new landscape will have those elements, of course, but the Pearson Playscape will offer much more.
New playgrounds in the Metroparks are being designed with unique, interactive sculptures created by a local company to reflect the natural environments of the parks. At Pearson, the new playground will incorporate sculptures of trees and animals that are enticing to children and educational at the same time.
“It’s going to be a very unique and very unusual situation — it’s going to be more than just a playground,” said Terry Breymaier, president of the non-profit Friends of Pearson Park.
“I think that along with everything else they are doing, along with the ponds (renovation), Pearson is going to be the state-of-the-art park in the system when that is done,” Breymaier added.
The play structures are only part of the project, which will also incorporate the surrounding landscape, connecting with the recently renovated, historic shelter house next to the tennis courts.
The BP-Huskey Refinery has donated $25,000 toward the project and issued a challenge to the community: Raise another $25,000 and the company will match it. Friends of Pearson Park was the first to step forward with a donation toward that goal.
The project will be done in phases with the first phase costing over $200,000.
“The entire project is more than a playground and also involves extensive landscaping, a new trail connector and more encompassing that whole area of the park.” Metroparks public relations director Scott Carpenter said.
Now, the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce has taken up the challenge as well. A portion of the proceeds from the chamber’s steak roast and reverse raffle will go to help make the Pearson Playscape a reality. The event is scheduled for August 18 from 5-11 p.m. at the Walbridge VFW.
“I’m really excited about having the chamber as part of the process,” Breymaier said. “I think they are going to bring a legitimacy and a recognition to this that I don’t think I could do on my own, or even the Metroparks, because you’re getting all the businesses knowledgeable and involved.”
Tickets are $100 per couple, which includes two steak dinners and two raffle entries. For ticket information, contact the chamber at 419-693-5580.
“We are continually amazed and humbled by the support that the community shows for Pearson,” Carpenter said. “It is consistently one of the top Metroparks for visitation and it has a very active Friends group, volunteers, and daily visitors. It is a special place that's an important part of the community. The support of BP, Friends of Pearson, and the chamber of commerce is key to making the new playscape project a reality.”
Way to collaborate
Carpenter and Beavers have noticed the Pearson playground always gets plenty of attention from children.
“The playground at Pearson is one of the most heavily used in all of the nine Metroparks,” Carpenter said. “The usage and support of the community make the Pearson project a priority as we plan a new concept for playgrounds across the park district. And kids are going to love it.”
Beavers added, “It’s always busy. I don’t know if there is a time you can drive through Pearson Park and not see a ton of kids there. We use it all the time. Between people visiting there, on top of the schools that go there for field trips, it’s busy. You can use the shelter houses there and during lunch you let the kids play. It’s used not just recreationally when people randomly go there, but it’s also used by the schools.”
Beavers said it was an easy decision for the chamber to choose Friends of Pearson as beneficiary of this year’s annual steak roast.
“It just seemed like an easy choice — it was thrown right into our lap and we thought, ‘This is a perfect way to collaborate,’” Beavers continued. “We are really excited.
“They have a huge following and I hope this is a big success — for both parties. It gives us exposure — we want to do something to help the community. We work and play here and we need to keep it so we can continue to work and play here, so we’re hoping it’s successful for both groups, so next year we can find another organization and do the exact same thing.”
The playscape will be the latest in a lengthy list of improvements to Pearson, which Carpenter says is one of the most popular of the nine Metroparks of the Toledo Area. Recent improvements include the renovation and expansion of Macomber Lodge, new restrooms at the Lake Activity Center, the renovation of the WPA-era shelter at the playground/tennis court area, and patio and landscaping improvements at the Packer-Hammersmith Center, a building that is currently under renovation.
Also in progress is a new shoreline for the Pearson lakes, which will incorporate large, flat limestone rocks to improve erosion control and safety while enhancing the beauty of the lakes.
When these projects are completed, Metroparks officials say virtually every major building and amenity at Pearson will be newly renovated. Combined with the addition of Pearson North and the Starr Avenue bikeway extension, Metroparks officials say Oregon residents will have one of the largest, most up-to-date parks in the Metroparks system.