TOLEDO (WTOL) - The yet-to-be-named Metro park that will be built along the riverfront in the “Marina District” has been given zoning approval by the city’s planning commission.

The Thursday afternoon vote means that the Toledo Metro Parks can continue moving forward on their plans to begin construction by the end of March, in hopes they’ll have Phase 1 complete by the end of summer.

Cheryl Zuellig of the SmithGroup from Ann Arbor, designers of the park plans, explained in detail some of the features that will be built in phase one. Those will include a large parking area, restoration of “native” habitat, and improvements to the old boat slip that will be similar to the boating area at the Middle Grounds Metro Park.

They will also build a pavilion and community center, plus a lighted sledding hill, plus a trail and bikeway path that will run through the 80 acre parcel of land. Zuellig told the commissioners the park will also be able to host large concerts or gatherings.

“There is also a proposed event lawn that will be handle a variety of crowds sizes. So you can have up to 5000 people in larger concerts or larger fairs or a fourth of July activity.

It was also learned that the main entrance of the park from Front street will be at East Broadway Street, which will be extended into the park itself. Another access into the park will be a pedestrian bridge that be built over Main Street to link the park with International Park.

Dave Zenk, the Executive Director of Toledo Metro Parks says the timing of the project has been planned to match the construction progress of the loft and residential complex now under construction near the King Bridge.

Zenk said it is hoped that the park will be ready for use at about the same time the loft apartments are complete. He also is hopeful that the presence of this new downtown Metro Park will mean more private investment in the area.

“The public investment is always the pre-cursor to a private economic response and will instill a new sense of vigor in the downtown community," said Zenk.

The Toledo Planning commissioners approved the new zoning changes to accommodate the new uses for the land that over the years has been home to a railroad yard, a tobacco company, a power plant, a marina and the Toledo Sports Arena.