BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Friends and supporters of Metroparks Toledo will celebrate the first phase of a new peace garden project at Side Cut Metropark next week.
The Rotary Club of Maumee donated $25,000 to fund the project, which will be installed in a series of three phases over a three-year period at the site of the canal locks. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place next Tuesday for the first phase of the project, which has been completed near lock four. It includes a bench and landscaping.
The second and third phases, which will take place over the next two years, include improvements to the base of lock three and the construction of a gazebo on the Silver Lake peninsula near the willow tree.
Michelle Free, who served as president of the Rotary Club of Maumee in 2018-2019, spearheaded the project on behalf of the Rotary Club. As president, she had the option of choosing a service project to work on during her tenure. A trip to Chicago the year before she became president sparked her interest in a peace garden after learning that Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris, had installed one at his home.
“I really liked the idea of a peace garden, and the fact that world peace is a pillar of Rotary also made it significant,” she said.
The peace garden is designed to create a calm and soothing environment with seating, plants and the natural water tricking from the locks. The site near the canal locks is a popular spot for those looking for a special place to hold an event, such as a wedding, family photo, class reunion or to just take a walk.
After speaking with park supervisor Bob Heckman, Free also learned that plans to beautify the area around the locks were already in the works, so the timing was perfect.
Constructing a peace garden near the locks is fitting because Side Cut was one of the first parks established in the system and its rich history is an important part of it.
“We wanted to partner with the parks and add to the project,” Free said. “It was a true partnership because I was able to have input on the project.”
For Free, it is the perfect spot for the peace garden, and she is very happy to be part of it.
“I love to sit by the locks. I feel better when I leave,” she said. “This is for the community and I am proud that my idea turned into something so many get to enjoy.”
The ribbon-cutting for phase one of the peace garden at the locks at Side Cut Metropark will take place on Tuesday, October 20 at 10:00 a.m.