Preserve to get heated ramp


The handicap ramp at W.W. Knight Nature Preserve will be heated next winter, making it safer for visitor use.

The Wood County Park District board approved the project at its Feb. 13 meeting.

This is the district’s largest capital improvement this year, said park Director Chris Smalley.

Architect Scott J. Heacock was hired to provide design services. The estimated cost of the project is $90,000.

The ramp is original to the construction of the facility in 1993 and has reached the end of its usable life.

Assistant Director Andrew Kalmar explained the current ramp has a wood deck with a steel structure underneath.

“The steel structure is virtually gone,” he said, after being eroded by weather and salt.

The other issue is the deck gets slippery when it’s wet. A carpet was laid down that led to more degradation, he said.

The plan is to install a concrete ramp that will be heated, to eliminate shoveling and salting, Kalmar said.

“That should make our people happy and our visitors very happy as well,” he said.

The system, heated by a hot water tank in the building, will extend all the way to the parking lot.

There is a planned shutdown of the preserve from April 1 to the end of May to allow for construction.

“On behalf of the old ladies in Perrysburg who use the nature center, thank you very much,” said board member Kathy Attwood.

The same hydronic system is used at the entrance to the Wood County Courthouse, Kalmar said.

It’s nice because it keeps all the slush and salt from entering the building, he said.

The board also approved spending $9,196 for new window blinds in the preserve’s Hankison Great Room. Budget Blinds, Perrysburg, submitted the low bid.

The blinds that are there are part of the initial installation when the building was constructed.

“Our operations staff have done a fantastic job of Frankenstein-ing things together to keep them going,” Smalley said, “but they’ve reached the point where we need to do a replacement.”

The park district’s police department will get a new truck and body cameras.

The board approved the purchase of a Ford F-150 4×4 super crew cab truck from Bauman Ford in Oregon.

The board will pay $45,343 for the truck.

Every year, the park police rotate out its oldest vehicle, Smalley said.

This year, the department is purchasing a truck rather than an SUV so it can haul items when preparing for an event, he said.

“It gives them a little bit more flexibility and doesn’t require them to (call) the operations department,” he said.

Board member Johnathan Smith asked about current models in the police fleet.

Police Chief Steve Thomson said all are SUVs – five are Ford Explorers and one is a Dodge Durango.

He said it has yet to be determined which vehicle the department will get rid of.

Equipment valued for the vehicle will be purchased from Northwest Ohio Emergency Equipment, Toledo, for $7,925.

The board also accepted a 2023 Ohio Body-Worn Grant valued at $21,330 to purchase body cameras and related accessories.

The cameras are comparable to what is used by the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Smalley said.

Thomson said the quote includes storage of video for five years.

The amount of the grant is equal to the cost of the equipment, Smalley said.

The updated devices will replace the current system and will be purchased from Midwest Public Safety Outfitters, Rockford, Illinois.

Also at the meeting, the board;

Heard Naturalist Craig Spicer report 575 people braved frigid temperatures to visit Wild Lights in January.

“That’s a tribute to the event itself,” he said.

This year, the indoor component of hot cocoa and cookies provided by Friends of the Wood County Parks was very much needed, he said.

Next year’s Wild Lights will be Jan. 10-12.

Agreed to dispose of blue plastic chairs as surplus through sale or donation.

Learned from Friends President Candace Weis that two large tubs of teacups, saucers and teapots were found that apparently were left over from when the Friends had tea parties. The items will be donated to the Carter Historic Farm.

Heard Smalley report a grant will be used to replace four benches on the Slippery Elm Trail and place two benches at Carter Historic Farm.

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