The beginning of the Park District was marked with promise and hope for a more vibrant and healthier Allen County. Anne Lauer, one of the founding visionaries (and commissioner) for the Park District really set forth to create a system that would stand the test of time. Four areas were acquired or leased during the 1970’s with two of them being open and accessible to the public during that time. Heritage Park and McLean Teddy Bear Park were the staples of the infancy of the Park District and remain vital to our success today.
- 1969 The Ohio Department of Natural Resources published a study on recreation and open space throughout Ohio, brought to the attention of the Allen County Commissioners by the Allen Soil Conservation District.
- 1970 The Allen County Commissioners appointed a group of concerned citizens to a Park Advisory Board.
- 1972 A three-month feasibility study of a Metropolitan Park District by James M. Jennings Associates, Columbus, Ohio.
- 1972 Application for a Park District made to the Probate Court. Park District established June 30, 1972.
- 1972 McLean Teddy Bear Park established through long term lease by Allen County Commissioners-20 acres, then increased to 42.5 acres.
- 1973 Heritage Park (162 acres) established via deed from U.S. Government
- 1974 Park District logo designed by Orvis Skolos.
- 1975 Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) permitted the Park Board to employ key personnel.
- 1976 June: First attempt to pass a ½ mill levy for the Park District: Failed
- 1977 45 acres at Allen County Farm Park acquired with long term lease by the Allen County Commissioners
- 1977 Kendrick Woods original land (182 acres) purchase through $211,000 bequest and $111,500 LWCF Grant along with conservation easements of 20, 5, and 7.1 acres.
- 1978 June: Second attempt to pass a ½ mill levy for the Park District: Failed
- 1978 81 acres of Heritage Metro Park was re-conveyed to the Federal government for the Lima Army Tank Plant test track
- 1979 Access to Auglaize River at Agerter Road established.
- 1979 November: Third attempt to pass a ½ mill levy for the Park District: Failed
The 1980’s marked continued but slower growth for the Park District, the opening of Kendrick Woods and the dedication of the area as a State Nature Preserve by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has remained important in our continued mission of connecting the public to the natural world. We continued that mission with the building and expansion of the McElroy Environmental Education Center and the inception of the Park District Foundation of Allen County; both continue to provide opportunities for young and old alike, to learn about nature through public programming.
- 1980 McLean Teddy Bear Park expanded to 56 acres through 10 acre donation by Henry Koch and 3.5 acre purchase by Park District (site of current office)
- 1982 Allen County Farm Park opened.
- 1982 November: Fourth attempt to pass a 1 mill levy for the Park District: Failed
- 1983 June: Fourth attempt to pass a 1/3 mill levy: Passed
- 1984 $2,500 grant awarded by Wells Fargo for a physical fitness trail in Heritage Park
- 1985 25 acres of land purchased at Kendrick Woods for development of shelters, restrooms, etc.
- 1986 Kendrick Woods-Purchased conservation easements of 12.6 and 9.8 acres
- 1987 Kendrick Woods Metro Park opened
- 1987 Park District Foundation of Allen County established.
- 1988 McElroy Environmental Education Center added to the Park District Office
The passage of our levy in 1993 was vital to the growth the Park District saw over the ‘90’s. The announcement and construction of the Rotary Riverwalk “paved” the way for a healthier more connected community, today. The addition of parks like Ottawa Metro Park, Fort Amanda State Memorial, and Deep Cut were all vital to the connectedness the community began to see with natural area parks in Allen County.
- 1990 Riverwalk established.
- 1991 Ottawa Metro Park established.
- 1991 Kendrick Woods-Purchased 11acre Meyer property
- 1991 City of Delphos became part of Park District.
- 1992 Establishment of Johnny Appleseed Yarn Spinners storytelling group
- 1992 Ottawa Metro Park construction began for entry, boat ramp, parking, fishing deck and restroom with a $129,500 Ohio Waterways Safety Fund Grant
- 1992 ¾ mill levies failed in May and November
- 1993 A ten-year 3/4 mill levy passed in May.
- 1996 Ft. Amanda State Memorial added to Park District
- 1997 Planned second phase developments to Ottawa Metro Park. A $105,000 NatureWorks grant was received for the beach house
- 1997 Heritage Park bikeway 1 kilometer loop added to Riverwalk
- 1997 Kiracofe Prairie dedicated at Kendrick Woods
- 1998 Opened Ottawa Metro Park Beach
- 1998 37.09-acre Lippincott Bird Sanctuary bequeathed to Park District
- 1998 Retrofitted all reservable shelters with electric service
- 1999 $28,500 NatureWorks grant for Ottawa Metro Park campground
- 1999 8.5-acre Deep Cut Historical Park leased to Park District from ODNR Division of Water
- 1999 92.5 acre Settlemire property purchased at Kendrick Woods
Steady and maintained growth continued during the 2000’s. The Park District celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2002 along with opening and completing the last phase of Ottawa Metro Park, the campground. The parks and areas added over this time continue to provide passive recreation for everyone. The planning and forethought by the commissioners, staff, volunteers, and the community helped shape many areas and trails that were added and expanded during this time.
- 2000 Water debate with Delphos goes to court
- 2000 Ottawa Metro Park campground / amphitheater construction started
- 2001 Completed Ottawa Metro Park campground
- 2001 Annexed Beaverdam to Park District
- 2002 Celebrated Park District’s 30th Anniversary
- 2002 Opened Ottawa Metro Park campground
- 2003 Purchased 18 additional acres at Allen County Farm Park
- 2003 Received $421,125 Clean Ohio Fund grant and purchased Pickrell Farm, an 80 acre addition to McLean Teddy Bear Park
- 2003 Opened Bridle Trail at Allen County Farm Park with a $26,900 Recreational Trails Fund grant
- 2003 With a 2 to 1 margin, Allen County citizens approved a replacement ¾ mill levy
- 2004 Completed Evans Arboretum at Ottawa Metro Park and dedicated July 17, 2004
- 2004 Park District acquired the 58.8 acre Roberts Property adjacent to the Ottawa Metro Park to become the Lauer Historical Farm
- 2004 Renovation of North Barn at Allen County Farm Park
- 2005 Opened the Lippincott Bird Sanctuary
- 2006 The Park District Foundation revitalized – strategic plan implemented, endowment fund created
- 2006 Huber Property acquired, 52.5 acres, adjacent to Auglaize River & Kendrick Woods
- 2006 Matthews Property acquired, 58.5 acres, adjacent to Auglaize River & Kendrick Woods
- 2006 Lauer Historical Farm Park conceptual plan announced
- 2006 $78,000 Clean Ohio Trails Fund grant received for Deep Cut to Spencerville Trail
- 2006 55-acre Motter parcel in Bluffton added to Park District through $166,500 Clean Ohio Fund grant
- 2006 $1.4 Million Clean Ohio Fund grant received to extend Rotary Riverwalk to Lauer Historical Farm and Ottawa Metro Park
- 2007 Park District hosts Lima Exchange Club event: Healing Fields at Ottawa Metro Park
- 2007 Park District celebrates 35th Anniversary with all-day event at Ottawa Metro Park
- 2007 Kendrick Woods: Purchased 50 acre (Delphos Well field) on St. Rt. 66
The passage of an additional levy in the spring of 2015 helped propel the Park District into a new era of community service. Steady and needed growth happened over this time. Six parks, areas and trails were added, and public programming took center stage. The addition of the B.E.E.T.L.E. mobile education van, updated school age curriculums and many special events really connected the community to the Park District and will for years to come!
- 2010 Veterans Freedom Flag Monument dedicated
- 2010 Motter Metro Park: Purchased 50 acres with $262,500 Clean Ohio Fund Grant
- 2013 A ¾ mill replacement levy passed by a three to one margin.
- 2014 Kendrick Woods: Purchased 61.3 acres (Stockton Property) with $324,500 Clean Ohio Fund Grant
- 2014 Hermon Woodlands Metro Park (71 acres) purchased with a bequest from Carole Hermon and a $461,305 Clean Ohio Fund Grant
- 2015 An additional ¾ mill levy passed with a 55% voter approval
- 2016 The Hermon Woodlands Metro Park is opened in May
- 2016 Evans Archery Range completed with a gift from Richard B. (Dick) Evans
- 2017 Construction begins o the Lauer Historical Farm
- 2017 Renovations begin on the South Barn at the Allen County Farm Park
- 2018 Renovations complete on the south Barn at Allen County Farm Park
- 2018 Park District commissions The Barn Artist (Scott Hagan) to design and paint a new bicentennial logo on the south end of the barn, facing State Route 81
- 2018 Park District begins and finishes Phase I construction of the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Spencerville north corp. line to Zion Church Road
- 2018 Wetland development project conceptualized for Motter Metro Park in partnership with the Nature Conservancy
- 2018 Lauer Historical Farm dedication and open house (August)
- 2018 Park District commissions the BEETLE (Bringing Environmental Education To LearnersEverywhere) mobile environmental education unit as part of a second donation from Richard (Dick) Evens
- 2019 Park District begins and finishes Phase II construction of the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, Zion Church Road to south corp. line of Delphos
- 2019 Park District begins development of the Stockton property (purchase in 2014) for the enhancement of trail opportunities as part of Kendrick Woods, $143,366 Clean Ohio Fund Grant
- 2019 Park District designs and installs interpretive trail signage at Motter Metro Park, $35,581 Clean Ohio Fund Grant
- 2019 Donation of 50 acres of land on Sunderland Road from Herbert and Elfie Beil
- 2019 Donation of 23 acres of land adjacent to Kendrick Woods, Krendl Family
- 2019 Purchase of 12 acres, (Osting Property) for access to the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, $169,526, Clean Ohio Fund Grant for purchase and development
- 2019 Purchase of 60.9 Acres, (Lowry Farm) as parkland in southeastern Allen County, $408,937, Clean Ohio Fund Grant for purchase and development
- 2019 New Playground installed at McLean Teddy Bear Park, National Demonstration Site, $40,000 OPRA and Gametime Playground Grant
- 2019 Inaugural Lauer Farms 1944 World War II Living History Event (October)
The 2020’s are full of hope and optimism for the Park District. We started out working through the same aches and pains as many others did with COVID-19 but saw a tremendous uptick in attendance during that time. We had over 910,000 visits to the parks in 2020 and have seen steady attendance since that time. The addition of two new park areas and the construction of a new office facility have laid the groundwork for the rest of the decade to be something special!
- 2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the World.
- 2020 Dedication of Robert K. Antibus Trail Access (formerly Osting Property) (July)
- 2020 Dedication of Haver Ridge Metro Park (formerly Lowry Farm) (September)
- 2021 Construction of new Park District office begins
The Park District’s mission, in part, is to provide outdoor educational opportunities while conserving our natural resources, with this we are proud to announce the expansion of the Evans Arboretum. This 50th anniversary initiative will promote conservation for generations to come and features trees from the region. Each tree is accompanied with a tag, their name, and a link to our website for more information, including a short educational video. We hope to see you on the trail!
50th Anniversary Loop at Evans Arboretum
50th Anniversary Videos
Celebrate Tradition, Embrace Innovation
We invite you to enjoy these interviews that talk through our tagline, Celebrate Tradition, Embrace Innovation. They were created to help facilitate the understanding and excitement of our Past, Present, and Future. The include great insight from employees (both past and present), commissioners, volunteers and our great community members. We are grateful for the continued support we have seen from the community and we strive to continue our mission of connecting you with the natural world.