Construction continues at Toledo’s Swan Creek
For several years, the Maumee River in Toledo, Ohio, was the focus of area developers, while Swan Creek, a tributary to the river, was largely ignored. Running through the city’s warehouse district, the creek recently became the site of numerous commercial and residential developments, and the area is now credited with the revitalization of Toledo.
In 1996, Owens Corning completed construction of its $100 million global headquarters at the confluence of the Maumee River and Swan Creek. A public park on the banks of the creek and dredging of the creek to improve water flow were included in the development. A few hundred feet upstream from that building, the Maumee Bay Brewing Co. overlooks the creek. The upper floors of the brewery and restaurant feature newly opened townhouse apartments.
Further upstream is the Erie Street Market, a year-round public food market that opened in 1997 and is accompanied by the recently renovated outdoor farmers’ market. The development includes a new, 25,000-square-foot glass outlet store operated by Toledo-based Libbey Inc. And most recently, the owners of Toledo’s minor league baseball team, the Mud Hens, agreed to move the team to a proposed $30 million stadium in the Warehouse District.
More than a decade of public and private efforts to improve the watershed of Swan Creek preceded the recent projects. Construction by the city of an EPA-funded combined sewer overflow system, as well as the elimination of many of the package plants and septic systems on the creek, have aided the cleanup campaign.
Additionally, conservation tillage has reduced agricultural sediment and nutrient loadings, and volunteers regularly police creeks. The Swan Creek Watershed Action Group, created by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) to encourage stewardship by residents of the watershed and improve water quality, seeks to establish swimmable conditions by 2000.
The environmental effort is gaining momentum. TMACOG is spearheading the cleanup. The Ohio EPA, the Maumee River Remedial Action Plan Implementation Committee and Clearwater Inc., a nonprofit entity that focuses on cleaning up Swan Creek, are other participants.
Taking a cue from cities like San Diego and Kansas City, Mo., officials in Toledo are building a riverwalk to link the creek’s various attractions, which include the park, outlet store, restaurant and farmers’ market. Construction of the first phase of a boardwalk system along the creek began in August 1997, adjacent to the Toledo Farmers’ Market. Another section of the riverwalk, funded through ISTEA, began late last year.
Development of a third section is planned pending approval of a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The $4 million project will include acquisition of additional park property, construction of a barrier-free boardwalk, boat docks and canoe liveries, native plantings on the banks and installation of decorative lighting.
In addition, the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo has received a grant from the Ohio Arts Council to design public art, which will be integrated into the design for the riverwalk. To generate additional interest, the city has provided free boat tours of the creek and will offer canoe rentals beginning this summer.