PERRYSBURG — With the potential for millions of dollars in future funding, the Wood County Park District signed a cooperative agreement on Tuesday with the Wood County Port Authority for development of the Chessie Circle Trail.
The development will link bike trails across the state.
The park district owns the former railroad right-of-way in Perrysburg Township, adjacent to the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve, that is part of the Chessie Circle Trail. It includes what the old turret bridge that crossed the Maumee River, which has since been removed.
Port Authority Executive Director and General Counsel Rex Huffman said there is possible federal funding for the project.
The trail is to be a combination bicycle and pedestrian trail that Huffman hopes to see extend from the University of Toledo to Millbury, across the Maumee River.
The port authority began working with the park district on plans for the trail in 2011, with the idea that the bridge could be adapted from rail use to pedestrian and bicycle use.
“It was a unique turret bridge, for the time,” Huffman said. “But no engineer would sign off.”
The project was set aside, because the estimated total cost, including bridge adaptation, might be as much as $15 million. With the bridge gone, Huffman believes there might now be funds available in the relatively near future. For now, they will focus on the Wood County side of the trail.
“Right now we are focused on building one section of trail,” Huffman said.
The goal is to raise $500,000 in funds, with $200,000 in matching funds from the port authority, to reach from River Road, near the bridge access, to the far side of W.W. Knight.
The port authority is immediately hoping to conduct a study for determination of scope and estimated costs related to the desired trail development, with the additional goal of seeking federal, state and local funding.
The park district will be operating the trail, once it is built.
“We’re going to go after this funding once a year,” Huffman said. “We will stop when we connect bike trails from that bridge to Millbury, because from Millbury you can go east for a long way.”
The board meeting took place at the J.C. Reuthinger Preserve, whose staff has been working on its native species plant propagation program.
There are 102 species being readied for the Native Plant sale on May 13. Among those are the hairy puccoon and the sweet fern, both are Ohio Department of Natural Resources rare and threatened species the park district has been working to revitalize in its native Wood County.
The park district had to get special permission to work with the plants. The project is part of the Green Ribbon Initiative of the Native Plant Working Group.
Sanja Jennings, the stewardship specialist, manages the greenhouse and nursery production.
“On a national level this is extremely important,” Jennings said.
She gave a tour of the greenhouses during the board meeting and showed off some of the new tools they are using to imitate what happens under the snow as they try to propagate some of the native species.
In other business, Corinne Gordon, historic farm specialist has a new staff member. Abigail Duncan has been hired as a new historic farm assistant. This is the first time there will be two staff members in that role. They repair and restore equipment, tend a garden and care for animals.
The board approved the annual tar and chip sealing program with the Wood County Engineer’s Office. The Bradner Preserve parking lot entrances at Timmons and Caldwell roads will be sealed. The process will take place during the summer, at the engineer’s discretion, to fit in with other projects, for $14,432 on Timmons Road and $10,398 on Caldwell Road.
Also approved was the purchase of a Grasshopper mower for use by the operations department, at a cost of $16,249, from A.J. Boellner Inc.
WCPD Director Chris Smalley also promoted some of the upcoming events, including: Kayak Demo Day, June 4, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Three Meadows Pond in Perrysburg, and Backpacking Basics on Wednesdays from 6:30-8 p.m. at the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve.
On May 8, construction will begin on the new addition to the J.C. Reuthinger Preserve building.
The board meeting ended with an executive session to discuss a possible land purchase.
(This story has been clarified to say that the Chessie bridge no longer exists.)