Due to the tireless efforts of volunteers, Ottawa's Arrowhead Park now boasts expansive greenspace and a winding path around stands of trees and along the Blanchard. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)
Due to the tireless efforts of volunteers, Ottawa's Arrowhead Park now boasts expansive greenspace and a winding path around stands of trees and along the Blanchard. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)

OTTAWA — Since it’s inception in 2017, ten years after the flood that inundated Ottawa, thereby providing the impetus for a host of changes, Ottawa’s Greenspace Development Committee has marched its agenda forward. Assuming stewardship of properties acquired as part of flood mitigation efforts, the GDC has championed the development of those areas, creating small islands of interrelated recreational spaces within the village.

During Monday’s meeting of the Ottawa Village Council, GDC Chair Tim Macke updated members on the committee’s efforts to date.

Macke launched into his presentation with a review of two more-or-less complete projects, beginning with one that’s seen frequent use, particularly over this past summer: Rex Center Park.

Built on a lot formerly occupied by Paul’s Hardware, Rex Center Park and its pavilion, boasts benches, walkways, and an outdoor stage. There, over the past few months, area musicians and invited guests have performed a slew of weekly concerts, occurences Macke was quick to note.

“Rex Center Park, which is becoming more and more the Rex Center Pavilion instead of Rex Center Park, the total cost was $243,030,” Macke told council as part of his financial report. “We didn’t cover $4,500, and the village was nice enough to cover that. Some things that we are looking at yet, even though we consider it completed, but we are looking at getting a sound system some time.”

In addition to the sound system, Macke further expressed the committee’s interest in acquiring lights for the stage, as well as simple signage; something he expressed a desire for on all village greenspace sites.

“We’d like to have a sign that all it says is, Village of Ottawa - Greenspace,” Macke said. “Just a simple thing.”

The second “complete” project — Macke acknowledged that most, if not all of the committee’s undertakings will likely forever prove works in progress — is a pair of soccer pitches on the village’s west side.

Titan Burger Fields — so-called by Macke due to a five-year, $25,000 commitment made by Tony’s owner Jason Ball — was completed at a total cost of $51,000. In-kind donations by area contractors kept expenses down, and American Electric Power donated a parcel of land for parking where a decommissioned power substation once stood.

While clearly pleased with the progress on the two completed projects, Macke expressed even more excitement with regard to the furture, particularly with plans for the village’s Arrowhead Park.

Comprising roughly 10 acres, the site sat mostly fallow — Don Croy, owner of Croy’s Mowing Ltd, maintained a stretch of ground along Main Street — for over seven years. Relatively recently, though, volunteers have begun the process of developing the site.

“Completion is 0%, but there’s a lot of work going on down there,” Macke told council. “We’re taking out the brush, the scrub trees. We have removed a considerable number of trees to go ahead and give some spacing down in the area that is, basically, along the Blanchard.”

More importantly, Macke said, a large path circling the park was mown quick to the ground, as were a series of sub trails, one of which circles down along the river. Performed initially with a brush hog and commercial equipment loaned to the committee by Croy, volunteers are now able to keep the path shorn with village-owned equipment.

“We’ve got it to the point so that folks can just walk around and enjoy themselves down there,” Macke said.

With the initial work established, Macke, looking to the short-term future, described the committee’s hopes for the site.

“The main project we want to do is put in two river access points: one behind the reservoir, and one down here at Arrowhead,” Macke said. “And with doing that, it’s obviously going to cost us a few bucks. About $100,000 for the two of them.”

In addition, the committee is eyeing a shallow dome of land some 50 yards from the river as a site for playground equipment. Also on the wishlist are restrooms.

To date, the committee has received just over $1,000 in donations toward the cause, but the opportunity for other such donations, as well as grant funding from a variety of sources, remains possible, if not probable.

Long-term, the committee and Macke are thinking big. Describing Arrowhead Park as ‘the hub,’ Macke envisions a network of small parks — some within the village, and some, both private and municipally-held, outside of it.

Re-envisioning a decades old, near forgotten dream of a river trail tying communities together, Macke spoke with fervor of the Arrowhead Park hub radiating spokes out to a diversion channel trail leading to Glandorf and even further to Cloverdale’s Cascade Park to the west. To the east lies Gilboa, and, further, Findlay. To the south, Pandora.

Connecting them all are the county’s waterways, and, should ambition lead to fulfillment, the dream of a growing group of steadfast volunteers.