A long-term master plan for Defiance’s riverfront was shared Wednesday with the city’s parks board along with a concept for a Bronson Park splash pad.
Mayor Mike McCann presented both topics to the board during a meeting in the city service building, and received favorable reaction.
The splash pad idea already is receiving strong consideration while the riverfront plan may have to wait, though it includes one particularly “key feature,” according to McCann — a pedestrian walkway in the confluence of the Maumee and Auglaize rivers. The so-called “tridge,” would connect Kingsbury and Pontiac parks along with the fortgrounds on Fort Street.
The concept is to take advantage of the rivers confluence, what McCann referred to as “an extremely unique feature.” Meanwhile, city administrator Jeff Leonard noted that the city has “the natural assets to connect three parks,” and create something “really inviting” to people inside and outside Defiance.
McCann, anticipating “push back” to the master plan — perhaps from citizens who might point to the need for street repairs — believes something like a tridge is “how we get millennials to take an interest in the community. It’s a thing like this that will bring people back to our community.”
Terraced retaining walls a pavilion, playscape and walkway with exercise stations are proposed along the Auglaize River’s eastern shoreline between bridges over Second and Hopkins streets. The city already has acquired some of this ground and removed buildings — primarily with federal and state grant monies — though additional property would need to be secured there.
Along Kingsbury Park’s Auglaize River shoreline — north of the Second Street bridge — are envisioned a viewing platform and fishing pier while an amphitheater, playscape, volleyball court and pavilion are also suggested in that part of Kingsbury.
The plan also places a viewing platform along Kingsbury’s Maumee River shoreline as well as a canoe and kayak launch.
Vehicle access into Kingsbury is proposed as Auglaize Street only while the swimming pool and ballfield would remain.
Along Pontiac Park’s Maumee River bank are envisioned a viewing platform along with a special events plaza and reconfigured boat access and parking.
The riverfront plan coincides with the city administration’s establishment of one-way traffic on Fort Street and part of Washington Avenue.
“We’re trying to get people to walk more,” said Leonard. “We’re really trying to create the kind of environment that creates parks along the river.”
Although opposition has surfaced to the one-way pattern on Fort and Washington — petitions are being circulated to place the issue before voters and restore two-way traffic — McCann vowed to fight it.
“We have a vision,” he said. “I have a vision.”
No cost estimates were provided for the riverfront ideas — proposed by the Ann Arbor, Mich. firm Beckett & Raeder, Inc. — and McCann conceded that it may take years to bring the entire plan to fruition. However, he likened it to an old adage about planting a tree today, and noted that some enhancements could be inexpensive and may happen within five years.
Another aspect of riverfront development includes building a walkway beneath the new Clinton Street bridge that is expected to be constructed in 2019. And city officials plan to wait until that project is completed to improve park space along the Maumee’s north bank, just west of the bridge.
Earlier, McCann presented the possibility of building a splash pad at Bronson Park. The park’s aging pool — which has not been used in a number of years due to repair costs — is expected to be demolished this year.
However, the pool’s pump building and bathhouse will be retained, perhaps for a splash pad.
A splash pad sits on a concrete base and emits water in a number of ways. It may include jets that shoot water into the air as well as amenities that distribute water downward in an umbrella shape and buckets that fill up before dumping over.
McCann indicated that a splash pad might cost as much as $500,000, but he is hoping community fundraising efforts can come up with the money. He also plans to seek state grant funding, like that received by three other Ohio communities — including Hicksville — for splash pads.
McCann is hopeful funds could be raised by year’s end for one at Bronson, and envisions other splash pads being built eventually in other areas, providing funds are raised for those as well.
Parks board chairman Mark Hall indicated support for the splash pad’s construction, saying “it’s a starting point. Put one in there (Bronson Park) and see how much use it gets.”
Splash pads that city officials visited recently in Fort Wayne also included adjacent amenities such as playground equipment and sitting areas.