State awards nearly $2M in park funding

SYLVANIA, OH (Toledo News Now) - Nearly $2 million in state grants have been awarded to Ohio parks. The money comes from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and will fund 105 community-based projects.

The Olander Park in Sylvania was awarded nearly $58,000. That is the sixth largest amount given in the state. Park officials say that money, combined with other grants awarded, will help them pay for a 72 acre expansion.

Park officials say they want visitors to enjoy nature at its simplest. With this grant, officials have expansion in their sights.

"The goal of the park system was to return it to its natural state of meadow and prairie," explained Gary Madrzykowski, director of the Olander Park system.

The prairie feel is why Tom Collins, his wife and dog, drive 20 miles to go for a peaceful walk. Collins likes the sound of more room to explore.

"Sounds like a good idea. We like walking, but you walk one area enough, you get to know it. This way, you will get something new to look at again," said Collins.

Sylvania Prairie Park is a part of the Olander Park system. It will expand by 72 acres to reach a grand total of 232 acres.

"We've expanded by a third. That makes it by far the largest park in the Olander Park system," said Madrzykowski.

The serene tall grass prairie is why Charlie Hess and his dog, Delanie, go all the time.

"This one is not very crowded. It's empty. It's wide open spaces, and there's no one to bother her or me," said Hess.

Officials say it is funding that makes the wide open spaces possible and without it, communities lose one of the few things that attracts people to the area.

"Once you have a great first-class park and it continues to grow and develop, it's great for families, it's great for businesses, it's great for everyone involved," said Madrzykowski.

The expansion will be finished in the spring.

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