by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
A park has been born in the heart of Presque Isle County.
The Metz Fire Trailside Park, located between the North Eastern State trail and the Metz Township hall, is nearly completed, but already available for use.
The new park has a pavilion, Metz’s only playground, a new well and water fountain, along with a vault toilet.
Metz Township officials signed off on the construction portion of the project and have been approved for an extension of the grant agreement from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to work on landscaping detailing.
Last week, the DNR notified the township that the extension proposal was accepted. The agreement has been extended through May 31, 2016.
Historic displays commemorating the devastating fire of 1908 will go on the inside walls of the pavilion. Many of the local people who worked to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the fire seven years ago, were involved in the development of the park too.
“I think it is an incredible asset for Metz Township, Presque Isle County and anybody using the trail,” said Presque Isle County Historical Museum executive director/curator Mark Thompson, who was one of six members to serve on a committee to develop the project. “I think it is going to be a wonderful stopping point for people.”
It’s the second trailside park the DNR has funded in Presque Isle County. The other is in Millersburg.
“People could plan a trip here,” said Ken Pawelek. “I think it is going to be an asset to the community.”
Committee member Jonas Taratuta said the project, which started in 2012, has come a long way.
“We waited for it for a long time, but now it is finally here,” said Taratuta. “I think it is very inviting.”
Thompson said the process to bring the project to where it is today involved a lot of government paperwork. “There are a lot of dollars involved,” he said.
The committee applied for and received local grants totaling $14,646.
Some local grants were earmarked for the Metz fire historical element of the park. These features will be put into place this coming spring. Officials are hopeful it will be in time for the ribbon cutting tentatively scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.
Committee chair Nancy Kandow said the park received countless-hours of donated services from both professional and nonprofessional individuals.
“This is very exciting for us,” said Nancy.
“It’s quite the improvement for the community,” Danny added.
Committee members included Tom Hein, Neil Altman, Danny and Nancy Kandow, Thompson and Taratuta.