BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — A much-needed sidewalk connecting St. Joseph Cemetery to Side Cut Metropark was dedicated on Sunday, September 10 during a brief ceremony, which was enjoyed by all who attended.
Approximately 40 residents gathered near the tennis courts at Side Cut Metropark on a beautiful late summer afternoon to enjoy light refreshments and to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony that was organized by Maumee residents Bob Rumschlag and his wife, Mary, who were instrumental in turning the sidewalk project into a reality.
Rumschlag spoke during the citizen comments portion of a Maumee City Council meeting last year, expressing his concern about the lack of a sidewalk from the midpoint of the front of St. Joseph Cemetery to the nearby entranceway of Side Cut Metropark on the south side of the 900 block of West Wayne Street.
He presented a petition signed by several neighbors in the area who supported the installation of a new sidewalk.
Rumschlag explained to council members that many residents in that area of town enjoyed walking along the 900 block of West Wayne Street to Side Cut Metropark but were hampered by the lack of a functioning sidewalk, leaving them no alternative but to walk on the grass.
When it rained or snowed, the grass became slippery and presented a safety concern for those who were walking or running in the area, he added.
Without a sidewalk, the only alternative to the grass option was to walk in the street, but pooling water on the road surface along with occasional ice and the added risk of oncoming traffic made the situation clearly unsafe, Rumschlag asserted.
Rumschlag waited several weeks to see if his words had any impact, and then returned to speak at the February 6 city council meeting, imploring the city to act on the matter. His wife, Mary, and his friend, Ben Driver, also spoke in support of the sidewalk.
Maumee city administrator Dr. Patrick Burtch responded that the necessary funds had not been budgeted for this year in either the city of Maumee’s budget or the budget of St. Joseph Catholic Church but promised that he would investigate the matter to see if something could be worked out between the city, the church and the Metroparks.
Burtch approached Fr. Eric Schild, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church, to gauge the church’s interest in the project, and he also contacted officials of the Metroparks planning committee. After a negotiation between the three entities, it was determined that all three parties would provide a portion of the funding to complete the $50,000 sidewalk project.
St. Joseph Catholic Church agreed to pay $24,000, Metroparks Toledo chipped in with $4,700 and the city of Maumee paid for the balance of the costs, utilizing Capital B improvement funds.
“Both the Metroparks and St. Joe’s were great to work with,” Burtch stated.
Once the funding was in place, the project was sent out for bids, and Balas & Sons Concrete Services LLC, of Perrysburg, was awarded the contract, besting three other bidders. The work on the 650-foot sidewalk was completed in August.
The ideal objective was to have a linear sidewalk connecting the cemetery to the Side Cut entrance, but decades of buried obstacles such as old gas lines and meters made that goal impossible. As a result, the sidewalk has a distinct serpentine characteristic to it.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rumschlag took the opportunity to thank the many people who made the project possible.
“The neighbors wish to thank St. Joseph Parish for facilitating the sidewalk extension from the cemetery up to the park entrance,” Rumschlag stated. “We no longer have to tread on wet grass or battle with cars when we walk up to this entrance of beautiful Side Cut park.
“We are grateful, Father Eric, for this blessed sidewalk, which I personally am glad to name ‘St. Joe’s Way.’
“I want to thank Ben Driver, who helped champion this matter with city council. Thank you, Ben.
“Thank you, city council, for approving Resolution 006-2023, which gave the city administrator authority and direction to take action.
“I want to thank city administrator Patrick Burtch for getting it done. It’s a fine, safe and inviting walk up to the park, now. Good job, Patrick.
“Thank you, Bob Heckman, Metroparks manager, for helping my wife and I put together this celebration today. Thank you, Marco’s Pizza, for underwriting a part of its cost.
“Lastly, thank you, neighbors, for signing the petition and being here today. Your voice did make a difference. Let this sidewalk extension encourage you to enjoy more time in the park and discover new nuances about it, which Bob Heckman, Metroparks manager, and his team, along with help from many volunteers led by Alaina Meister, have put in place to enhance your experience in the park.”
Rumschlag also took time to thank The Mirror for its reporting efforts. “Your coverage helped shine a light on the safety issue that it was. It ‘was,’ as in past tense,” he smiled.
Fr. Eric Schild, of St. Joseph Church, spoke next.
“I have been the pastor here now for four years and I had no idea of the excitement that something like this would generate among the neighbors.
“That really is so good for us. Obviously, for the Catholic church we want to be good neighbors, we want the best for the city of Maumee, and it became very clear that this was a little piece that we could contribute to help better Maumee.
“This really is an honor and it’s awesome and we are happy to contribute,” Fr. Schild said.
Fr. Schild was then joined by Bob Rumschlag, Bob Heckman and Ben Driver to cut the ribbon amid a nice round of applause from the assembled crowd.