By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER

Hancock Park District is constructing a new shelter at Riverbend Recreation Area, a nearly $400,000 project that is expected to be available to the public this spring.

The new building replaces a demolished shelter.

Construction was funded with a donation from the Mariann Dana Younger Donor Advised Fund, managed by the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation.

The new shelter will be handicapped accessible, enclosed, and constructed of stone highlights with a metal roof. It includes an indoor fireplace and outdoor patio.

The building will be available for rent for family gatherings, weddings, parties or meetings. Picnic tables will provide seating for 40.

Also, a gazebo north of Brugeman Lodge at Riverbend was installed last year following completion of concrete work in the area.

The project was funded with about a $40,000 donation on behalf of Mrs. Younger, also through the Community Foundation.

Capital plan

Separately, the park district board approved a 10-year capital improvement plan last May.

Major projects listed for this year include a restroom at Big Oaks Activity Area in Riverbend Recreation Area, estimated at $45,000; a playground at the same location, $50,000; site amenities such as benches, trash/recycling containers and concrete pads at Riverside Park waterfront, estimated at $30,000; boat launch construction at Riverside Park, estimated at $48,600; and replacement of the boardwalk at Oakwoods Nature Preserve, estimated at $10,000.

Funds for the projects will come from various sources, including park district accounts, such as the Blanchard River Greenway Fund, and money from the state Department of Transportation Metropark Program.

Water trail

In December, the park district received notification that the Blanchard River Water Trail designation was approved by the state for a 37-mile route that starts south of Mount Blanchard at Blanchard River Nature Preserve off Hancock County 17, traversing north and west through the county to Blanchard Landing boat launch off Ohio 235.

Securing the designation was a six-year effort for the park district, working with the state Department of Natural Resources. An updated water trail map is being prepared and is expected to be available by late spring.

In October, Geddis Paving and Excavating, Toledo, was awarded a $39,518 contract to pave the Blanchard Landing parking lot.

In November, the park district board agreed to fund 50 percent of the paving cost for Marion Township 208, from Marion Township 241 to Marion Township 207.

Marion Township 208 is the main road within Riverbend Recreation Area. The project, estimated at more than $34,500, will be done in conjunction with the Marion Township trustees, who will pay the remainder.

Fee increases

In August, rental fees and deposits were increased for Brugeman Lodge at Riverbend Recreation Area and the Activity Barn at Litzenberg Memorial Woods.

Brugeman Lodge rental increased from $250 to $325, Monday through Thursday; and from $500 to $650, Friday through Sunday and holidays.

The fee for nonprofit organizations increased from $100 to $150 for rental Monday through Thursday.

A refundable deposit increased from $200 to $250.

At the Activity Barn, the rate increased from $150 to $200 for rental Monday through Thursday; and from $150 to $400 for Friday through Sunday and holidays.

The refundable deposit increased from $50 to $250.

Another completed project in 2018 was an outdoor fitness center in Centennial Park, designed for those at least 14 years old.

A concrete walk and concrete pad, with new equipment, were installed to replace 29-year-old equipment. The new equipment is American with Disabilities Act compliant. The park board approved about $48,500 for the project.

Programs, activities

Park district staff and volunteers provide a variety of programs throughout the year.

Volunteers provided more than 1,283 hours to assist with 476 programs last year. There were 15,270 participants in the various programs.

Astronomy, plants, animals, open house activities at Litzenberg Memorial Woods and the McKinnis House, bird monitoring, art programs, and activities for preschoolers through adults are some of the park district’s yearly activities.

A quarterly program and event guide includes a calendar of events and explanations/registration information, if applicable. The free guide is available at the park district headquarters, 1424 E. Main Cross St., and at various park properties.

The 68th annual Riverside Summer Concert Series begins in June and continues through August. The series features a variety of musical performances in the Allen P. Dudley amphitheater at Riverside Park.

The park district’s annual photography contest, featuring monthly winners, will continue this year after being revamped during 2018. The new contest begins in March.

Park grants

In November, the park board approved 12 Community Park Improvement Program grants, distributing $96,000 to 10 villages and two cities to assist with projects in various parks. The grants range from $11,524 in Mount Cory to $1,827 in McComb.

Maurer: 419-427-8420

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