Megan Stibley | Reporter

Bowling Green parks will receive a host of improvements thanks to grant funding approval provided by the Wood County Park District from legislation passed by the Bowling Green City Council on Sept. 6.

Nick Rubando, chair of the Parks, Recreation and Public Lands Committee for City Council, said the council is currently working to write grants within the Local Park Improvement Program. If applicable, funds will help construct new interpretive signage at Wintergarden, a shade structure for the baseball diamond and new recreational equipment at City Park.

“Something we learned during COVID-19 was that people really respect our parks. They utilize them, they look to them as a sanctuary,” Rubando said. “Any way that we can improve upon those parks, we want to take advantage of that whole-heartedly.”

During the city council meeting on Sept. 6, they authorized city participation in the local park improvement grant program, to file an application and accept any potential grant funding. 

The Board of Park Commissioners approved the city to apply for funding under the Local Park Improvement Program, in addition, they are also eligible to apply for grant funding for park and recreation facilities and programming.

Additionally, on Sept. 19, city council authorized the transfer of $15,200 for park, playground and recreation, park maintenance and more.

Rubando tweeted on Sept. 16 that some parts of the American Rescue Plan [ARPA] funds are to go towards hiking and biking trails, pickleball courts and dog parks. 

Rubando said these local park improvement grants for individual projects are usually $5,000 to $10,000.

“We actually sent out a community survey as a part of our American Rescue Plan funding, and overwhelmingly, the respondents of the survey rated investing in parks and green spaces as their No. 1 priority,” Rubando said. “We wanted to ensure that was reflected in how we gave out ARPA funds.”

A chunk of the ARPA funds went towards the construction of Carter Park’s inclusive play structure, but can now be used for more projects. 

The inclusive playground is designed to allow people with disabilities to utilize the parks with equal access. The city has partnered with local nonprofit Wood County Plays, which builds playgrounds for children with disabilities. The park’s playground is set to open sometime in October.

“We want to ensure that everyone who lives within Bowling Green has an opportunity to take advantage of everything that we offer,” Rubando said. “When we’re building new parks and when we’re looking at making improvements, we want to ensure that they’re inclusive structures for everyone to be able to utilize.”

Rubando said investments in local parks will be a continual process, and urges students who have any suggestions on how to improve the parks, to reach out to him. 

“We’re always looking for ways to improve our parks, to improve our green spaces and to offer fun recreation for students and citizens of Bowling Green alike,” Rubando said.

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