Plans unveiled for Glass City Metropark and the Riverwalk

Kelly J. Kaczala

         Metroparks Toledo unveiled plans for Phase 2 of Glass City Metropark, located on the east side of Toledo’s riverfront.
        “Construction of Phase 2 is going on right now,” said Scott Carpenter, Toledo Metroparks spokesperson.
        Phase 2 will include:
                •An ice skating ribbon;
                •A mini-Maumee water play area;
                •A restaurant;
                •Picnic shelters;
                •A campground;
                •The realignment of Marina Drive;
                •The renovation of a building into a community center at 815 Front Street;
                •A bridge over Main Street that will connect Glass City with International Park, which will also be renovated as a new metropark.
        The building currently under construction in the metropark will include the restaurant, changing areas, ice skating rentals, and a common meeting space.
        “It will be a really attractive building,” said Carpenter.
        The ice skating ribbon will be the first of its kind in the area, he said.
        “It’s like an ice skating trail. It will be refrigerated, so we’ll have guaranteed good ice every winter for ice skating. The nearest two are in South Bend and Chicago. But nothing around this area. This will be very unique.”
        Phase 2 will also have very elaborate, unique children’s play areas, he said. “It will include a water play area we call `mini-Maumee,’ and a three-story play tower with slides and different play structures built into the tower. It’s almost 50 feet tall. It will be built on the back of the sledding hill. It will allow us to put a ramp up the sledding hill so it will be accessible to people in wheelchairs. So all of this is under construction now, and will be done just after the first of the year. With any luck, we’ll have ice skating by next winter there.”
        Phase 1, completed last year, includes:
        •A 3,500-square-foot pavilion with restrooms, a concession window and green roof;
        •The building accommodates 150 people;
        •Rooftop plaza space;
        •An event lawn that accommodates 5,000 people for special events;
        •A sledding hill;
        •Aggregate and asphalt walking paths.
        Plans were also released on Wednesday of Phase 1 of the Glass City Riverwalk, which will extend beyond the park.
        Phase 1 of the Riverwalk goes from the Martin Luther King Bridge to the Docks Restaurants on the East Side.  Eventually, the Riverwalk will run from both sides of the Maumee River, from the Veterans Glass City Skyway to the Anthony Wayne Bridge, a five-mile continuous path connecting 300-acres of parkland, like a metroparks spread out along both banks of the Maumee River.
        “It’s really going to be something,” said Carpenter. “We expect it to be a catalyst for private development as we’ve already seen with the Marina Lofts apartment complex and The Old Bag of Nails Pub next door. The developer of those places said he invested $50 million here because of the parks next door. So we hope to see more of that kind of private development as we continue developing Riverwalk.
        The Riverwalk is described as a multi-use path following the shoreline on both sides of the river from the Skyway to the Anthony Wayne Bridge with different play areas along the way.
        “We will be developing that over time, with a completion date of about six years from now. It should all be done by then,” said Carpenter.
        Once Phase 2 of the Glass City Metropark is completed early next year, Phase 1 of the Riverwalk will start, he added.
        “Then there will be future phases beyond that,” he said.
        Plans also include Metroparks Toledo taking over International Park.
        “The whole park will be completely renovated,” he said. “We’re expecting those plans next month, so we don’t have a timeline yet until we get those plans,” said Carpenter.
        The Docks restaurants are privately owned and will remain in the park, he added.
        “But along the river, we will make improvements. The boat basin with the flags around it will get redone with a more naturalistic shoreline and boardwalks. There are lots of really cool plans with that space,” said Carpenter.
        Metroparks Toledo received a $24 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant for the $200 million Riverwalk project. The project will also be funded by a tax levy that voters approved in November, 2020, that will provide $112 million, over half of the cost, he said.
        “We’re also doing private fundraising. We didn’t think the public should shoulder the entire burden of the cost because this is going to benefit all of Toledo, including businesses. We’ve already gotten a $10 million gift from ProMedica, $1 million from Owens Corning, $1 million from Dana, and $1 million from Mercy Health. We’re hoping to raise a total of $30 million privately. We’ll continue fundraising. So we’re well over halfway to that goal.”
        The costs include funding to staff and maintain the metropark.
         “So there will be some special tax increment financing that kicks in at some point for the city. New businesses that spring up around the metropark - their taxes will help pay for the perpetual care of the parkland,” he said.


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