PERRYSBURG — After two years of dormancy due to ice damage, Buttonwood Park may be coming to life again.
Molly Strader, who lives near Buttonwood, asked the Wood County Park District board to reconsider the park’s closure. She spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held in person at W.W. Knight Preserve.
“Is this a park still?” Strader asked.
The answer was “possibly.”
Neil Munger, park district director, said he has met with representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Nature Conservancy about doing some rehabilitation work at the park’s former soccer fields, making it a prairie. The parking lot could be moved, too, to an area that wasn’t as damaged by the ice floes.
Board member Denny Parish said they must be cautious because Buttonwood has burned them before.
“What we see in the past, we’re going to see in the future,” Parish said.
He asked Munger to line up a filming of the area to show the board the damage — and the possibilities. Prioritize what can be done, without a large investment, Parish said.
“I imagine Buttonwood will never quite look like what it did five years ago,” Parish said. “But there are some things we can do that are not cost prohibitive.”
Munger said he will ask the land architect to do a drone flyover and will have a presentation in June or July.
The park board in March 2019 voted to close Buttonwood after ice floes, caused by a hard freeze then a rapid thaw, washed out a lot of the park and scarred trees. This also occurred four years previously and the board spent $100,000 to repair the damage.
The park was mostly a primitive site, with some camping areas and soccer fields. It is popular during the walleye run, has been the home of an annual pow-wow and hosted the Jan. 1 polar plunge one year.
After the meeting, Munger said the park could be rearranged to take advantage of areas that aren’t as devastated with floods. A new entrance would be created.
The ice floes washed all of the gravel from the original parking lot into the woods.
Strader said she would be happy with a scaled-down park. It’s a beautiful place to watch the wildlife and enjoy the easy access. She grew up on the river, catching crayfish and snails and watching the fishing.
She said Buttonwood is too valuable to let sit.
“It’s such a wonderful space. It was granted by Betty Black to the parks and when you’re given a gift like that, you just want to see it be there for future generations.”
There are hundreds of people down at the river this time of year, during the walleye run, fishing and walking, she said.
She and others can raise funds, if necessary, and help clean up the debris, Strader said.
It could be less work now, to start cleaning up, before things really start growing, she added.
A notice on the park district website says:
“Warning! Buttonwood Recreation Area is CLOSED until further notice. It has suffered extensive damage from ice shoves and flooding and is currently unsafe, so the park is closed. Thank you for your understanding!”