Meet Middlegrounds, the first Metropark on the downtown Toledo waterfront.
Middlegrounds Metropark, 111 Ottawa Street, adjacent to the Anthony Wayne Bridge, is approximately 28 acres along the Maumee River. The park takes the historical name of the property, which was the “middle ground” between the river and Swan Creek, where railroads met the canal and industries developed.
Metroparks of the Toledo Area has cleaned the property and developed a downtown greenspace with views of the river.
Rotary Roundhouse, a rentable picnic shelter designed to resemble a railroad roundhouse, honors the Rotary Club of Toledo, which donated money to build the structure in 2012 on the occasion of the organization’s centennial anniversary. The new shelter will be available to rent starting in 2017.
The new park includes a 1.2-mile, paved walk/bike path and additional 0.2-mile loop, foot bridges, scenic overlooks and benches.
Still to come: Metroparks first dog off-leash area has received zoning approval and will be built near the park entrance, along Ottawa Street. Construction of the fenced area will begin later this month.
Metroparks purchased the land in 2006 with grant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. Clean up of the site involved first removing more than 8,000 tons of debris.
Once deemed inhabitable swamp, the 28-acres of land now known as Middlegrounds Metropark has transformed many times.
Through the 1800s and into the early 1900s, trains and canal boats traversed the site, carrying freight and passengers. Buildings went up to accommodate the grain, lumber - and people – delivered daily.
Floods, fires and progress elsewhere in the city led to the site’s decay in the 1970s. By the time Metroparks acquired the property in 2006, it had deteriorated into a dumpsite.
More than 8,000 tons – about 16 million pounds – of debris was removed from the property before construction of the park began in 2015
Metroparks manages water runoff from the property, the downtown slope of the adjacent Anthony Wayne Bridge and a portion of Ottawa Street by channeling water through a manmade stream into a succession of three ponds. The system uses natural filters, including wetland plants, to remove solids and break down chemicals. The cleaner water finally spills over into the Kayak Cove before reaching the Maumee River.
The expansive wood decking used in the park is made of Ipe (pronounced EE-pay) from a sustainable source. The wood, also known as Brazilian walnut, is one of the densest hardwoods available and resistant to insect damage, mold and decay.
Park Management: Maintenance & Security
Like all of the Metroparks, Middlegrounds will be patrolled on a regular basis by rangers and volunteers. The park district has 30 park rangers, who are certified peace officers, and a Volunteer Trail Patrol who walk the parks offering assistance to park visitors.
Daily maintenance of the site will be managed by staff based at Pearson Metropark, where the nearest maintenance shop is located. In addition, Metroparks has an agreement with the Downtown Toledo Improvement District to assist with safety checks and routine upkeep of the park.
Visitors can also expect to see Toledo Police Department officers as well as Ohio Divisions of Wildlife and Watercraft officers in the park as part of mutual aid agreements.
Planning and Design by JJRSmithGroup
- Mark Haynes Construction – grading and site work
- B&J Concrete and Construction – Parking lots and walkways
- Cross Renovation – Rotary Roundhouse construction
- The Delventhal Company – bridges, overlooks and railings
- Deitering Landscaping - plantings
- A&J Landscape – paver patio and sod
- McClurg Environmental – irrigation
Additional work by Metroparks roving construction crew
Volunteers: Over the years, groups of volunteers have contributed to the cleanup of the site, and assisted with planting.