Interpretive/Nature Trails

History lesson: Background of BG parks put on signs

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History can now come alive for visitors to two of Bowling Green’s parks.

New interpretive signage has been installed at City Park and Ridge Park to help give patrons a perspective on those properties’ pasts.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said that the signs came about as the result of a 2020 Wood County Park District Local Improvement Grant that the department received. She said that initially they’d applied in 2018 but didn’t receive a grant for the project at that time, and later reapplied.

Otley said the plan had been to create signs focusing on the history of City and Ridge parks. After they received the grant, Otley said, Natural Resources Coordinator Chris Gajewicz took over “and did fantastic work, doing research, getting pictures” and undertaking other efforts.

“That was a long time in coming,” Gajewicz said of the project.

He said that while the signs themselves were made in New York, “it was really a community effort to put that together.”

He said he worked with local historian Dick Martin, as well as people at the Bowling Green High School, the Wood County District Public Library and the Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University. Gajewicz said that after writing the text, he received additional assistance from his wife and from Otley, and the signs themselves were designed locally by a community member.

There are three signs in City Park: one focusing on the history of the park in general; a second one discussing the history of the Wood County Fair, which was formerly held in the park; and a third sign focusing on the WPA projects at the park, Needle Hall and the stone shelter. Ridge Park has one sign discussing the history of that site, which was formerly a school.

In other business, the board heard from board chair Jodi Anderson about changes to the Parks and Recreation Foundation’s annual wine and cheese fundraising event, which is scheduled for Sept. 24. Anderson noted that the event is now called “Party for the Parks.”

“New name, new time, 4 to 7 p.m. to allow for those that may have an event later on a Friday evening to get to that,” she said. The event also has a new location – the Veterans Building in City Park.

“The benefit of COVID has allowed time for a whole bunch of new refreshing of the event,” Anderson said, noting there will be measures in place to make it “COVID comfortable” for attendees. She said local breweries will be featured, as well as the event’s traditional wine offerings. While the silent auction will still take place, there will be no live auction.

Another change: because of numerous needs that have popped up post-pandemic, the proceeds of the event will go towards multiple projects, though in the past the funds had gone to just a single designated project.

“It is going to multiple needs across parks and rec,” Anderson said.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Welcomed new board members Tyler Dunn and Emily Keegan.

• Heard from Otley that rentals of parks facilities have been picking up. “There’s pent-up demand, I think, for some of those things,” she said.

• Heard that the new Bellard/Perkins shelter at Carter Park is now up. While electrical work still needs to take place, picnic tables are now there and Otley said they expect it will soon be available to the public.

“We’re really excited to have that project done,” she said.

• Heard that the official ribbon cutting for the Veterans Building will be Aug. 18 at 4 p.m.

• Heard from Gajewicz that the high school cross country team recently helped park staff open up a new trail in Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve which connects Wintergarden Woods to recently-added park property.

“They were such great kids,” Gajewicz said. “The kids really, really made the day and they just got in there and worked, and this was on their own free time.”

• Heard from Recreation Coordinator Ivan Kovacevic that the summer’s unpredictable weather has made for an interesting season at the city pool complex. He said that during the season’s hot days, the pool is extremely busy, but “we’ve also had a lot of rainy days, so it’s been a hit-or-miss type of summer at the pool, but I think people are excited that we’re back.”

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