Overhauling Orleans: Perrysburg park may get a facelift

PERRYSBURG — Orleans Park is a diamond in the rough that could be polished to shine so brightly.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Perrysburg Council heard a presentation about the vision of the park, and possibly adding an accessible river overlook, pavilion, dog park and trails.

“This is really an untapped jewel of Perrysburg,” said Tim Bockbrader with the Edge Group, Toledo, that did a study on the park.

The group is proposing incorporating a large loop around the entire property, with a walking trail around the entire perimeter. A bike path coming from Riverside Park would connect into Orleans.

“You’ll see a lot of that connectivity through the park,” Bockbrader said.

A new boat launch would allow boats not to be put immediately into current. Over the launch, the design shows an elevated walkway, over the rowing launch, which would be a viewing opportunity for the river.

“We know that people like that connection of direct access to the water,” he said.

There would be boardwalks through the wetlands area.

Also proposed is a larger, renovated open lawn space near a pavilion. It would be an open space for 200 people and hold meetings and events. Nearby would be a nature-based playground area.

Another idea is an adventure trail with a bike pump track.

There would be a two-scale dog park, for larger and smaller animals.

There is also an opportunity to create some different art opportunities, such as the ones in Woodlands Park.

“That might be eye-catching and make this, again, a real destination,” Bockbrader said.

Weaknesses include the wastewater treatment plant location there and the smell, along with the parking entrance and access, shallow water and ice floes.

Councilman Mark Weber asked if the entrances would be changed.

“We left it in its current location,” Bockbrader said of the main one, off Maumee Western Reserve Road. The Front Street entrance, which is more secluded, would also remain.

“We didn’t see necessarily any benefit to pushing it down one way or another further,” he said, adding the honeysuckle should be cut back to make the park more visible from the road.

Mayor Tom Mackin said that Orleans Park is very underutilized. Community surveys continually show the public wants more access to the river but does not want it to be commercialized.

“We’re not going to take away anything that’s very successful, like the walleye run,” Mackin added.

He said this could be “a scalable” project, done over time.

“But it’s also something we shouldn’t not do. There’s a real opportunity here, with the monies that are becoming available,” Mackin said.

Council President Jonathan Smith asked about the costs.

Bockbrader said that there were some estimates obtained in June. He declined to share them, saying they will probably change due to inflation.

“We have started to do estimating on this,” he said. “To be very blunt … so much has changed since even June to now, in terms of pricing.

“When the number comes in — they’re usually big numbers. And it’s something we would phase over time. And we have started to explore funding opportunities,” Bockbrader said.

Those could be from conservation groups and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“It’s going to be a huge chunk to eat at once,” Smith said, talking about a phasing-in approach.

Bockbrader said a bike path will be happening, so that could be an initial focus.

“My gut tells me there’s a lot of money out there for nature access programs,” Bockbrader said.

After the presentation, Deborah Born, a former councilwoman, asked for a price on the Orleans Park vision.

“I did not hear a cost mentioned,” she said.

Mackin said that she could submit her questions.

The stakeholder group that studied the park included city administrators, Mackin, council members, rowing clubs, the convention and visitor’s bureau, and heads of planning and design for the Toledo Zoo and Toledo Metroparks.

The park, which is located at Maumee Western Reserve Road, currently has parking, fishing access, jet ski launch, canoe and kayak storage racks, picnic tables and a walking path along the river which connects the park to Fort Meigs State Memorial. In 2012, a paved walking/bike path was constructed under the Maumee River bridge that links Orleans Park to Fort Meigs.