In cities across the country, construction of signature public spaces like Glass City Metropark and the future Glass City Riverwalk can significantly change land values and uses in surrounding neighborhoods. Closer to home, a study by the Trust for Public Land determined that in Lucas County, parks and trails raise the value of nearby homes by $40.8 million per year and increase property tax revenues by $1.13 million per year. The Glass City Enrichment Center (GCEC) will support the vision of Metroparks Toledo to elevate our region and transform its identity by working to ensure that Glass City Metropark and the Glass City Riverwalk are a driver of inclusive development that provides opportunities for all residents, regardless of income and demography.
Parks are connective infrastructure that link communities to one another and to natural assets. It is essential that a broad range of community members are engaged with our parks since we understand the catalytic role that parks and open spaces play in providing critical physical and mental well-being for all people regardless of age, culture, and socioeconomic background.
Park agencies must constantly evolve to continue serving their communities. The concept of parks as an anchor for revitalizing neighborhoods and communities is not new, as the National Recreation and Parks Association previously had an initiative called Parks Build Community which demonstrated how parks connect to and enhance the life of a community. Included in their final report is this line: It is as much about what takes place in the community outside the park as it is about what takes place inside the park.
The purpose of this project is not just about the Metroparks. At the GCEC, Metroparks Toledo is leading the rehabilitation of a vacant building into a safe and welcoming space for all community members. In collaboration with community partners, the GCEC will serve, connect, and enrich our community. Metroparks is “here for everyone,” but everyone isn’t here. Survey and interview respondents have overwhelmingly favorable experiences with Metroparks. However, there is a recognition that for some, Metroparks represents a world unknown. Whether it’s due to lack of awareness, inadequate transportation, or an inability to see oneself in the parks and their offerings, there are populations of people who are not visiting the parks.
Change moves at the speed of trust. One of the significant challenges facing our agency is continuing to earn trust and developing or furthering relationships with members of the community who are currently not utilizing the parks. This commitment will require scaling our services in order to reach new audiences, and working more than ever with community partners who are trusted already.
With a goal to support and empower residents and address the expressed needs of the local community, the GCEC will be a key access point for a variety of programs and services, offered by Metroparks or other partners, such as youth programs, workforce development, wellness programs, education, and other social services. These programs and services were all identified as priorities within the Garfield Community Plan, completed in 2021. Ongoing community engagement will seek to ensure that neighboring residents continually benefit from the signature new civic spaces.
Portions of the building will be used by Metroparks Toledo to support the maintenance and operations needs of the park district, including Glass City Metropark and the future Glass City Riverwalk.
Construction is ongoing and scheduled to be complete by the end 2023.
Interested in learning more? Please contact Allen Gallant, Director of Community Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org