Last week I walked on phase one of the newly proposed Perrysburg riverfront renovations, an asphalt path from the Orleans Park to the bridge connecting Perrysburg and Maumee.
That walk included so much of what can be great out of the basics elements in the $26 million in planned improvements along the river. The walk would connect residents with the river and beautiful nature in the area. While I was strolling, I was stopped by a doe and her two fawns who froze and stared at me, scared. We spent a few moments looking at each other before a biker came up slowly and the deer took off into the wilderness.
It was awesome.
Also, the path under the bridge had some gorgeous views of the Maumee River which I haven't seen before. Those are things the city is trying to give its residents in the overall improvement project. City officials are looking at several improvements from Fort Meigs to Hood Park in a long-term project that will be unveiled at 5:30 p.m. July 30 before the city council meeting.
City Administrator Brody Walters talked about the basics behind the plan -- providing riverfront access to resident. The basics in the plan would provide that, but several extras thrown into the plan -- such as an ice rank, zipline course, mountain bike course, theater, breakwaters, gradual waterfalls from Front Street to the river -- seem to be over the top for some people, who label the total plan "unrealistic."
Some things city officials should consider:
--The total project relies on grants. Whether such funding is or will be available, even over time, is questionable.
--Neighborhood views. About 20 houses are on the north side of Front Street surrounding Riverside Park. From my door-to-door interviews last week about the project found many there not in favor of it. Reasons stemmed from parking to safety and even what would happen to the foundation of their homes if ground was moved on the hill below. Mayor Nelson Evans wrote in a letter in the 103-page master plan for the project that the land north of Front Street is for the public's use, but people who live there now disagree.
--Is there enough parking if the improvements all are implemented and hundreds or thousands attend events such as a concert on the river? The plan had lots of parking at Orleans Park, but not near Hood Park and downtown Perrysburg.
--The expected added pedestrian traffic could diminish the safety and security of nearby residents, such as people breaking in or loitering on personal property. City administrators told homeowners that more traffic would avoid current problems such as people have sex on property near the riverfront. The plan, city officials said, is for the path to be lit by motion sensors.
I think proceeding with the big project will all come down to money. I'm confident the multi-use path will be installed, connecting the three parks on the riverfront and giving residents a chance to walk around and get some neat sights such as deer or the Maumee River. But I just have a hard time believing a $26 million plan, with its amazing but over the top elaborate dreams, will get through city council.