(DHI Media/File Photo/Kirsten Barnhart)
(DHI Media/File Photo/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT — The Van Wert County Foundation and the Van Wert Trails & Recreation group are seeking further input on proposed improvement plans for Hiestand Woods and the Van Wert Reservoir trails. Community input is guiding both improvement projects. An online survey is available for public input on proposed improvements. To share your thoughts, click on the link Hiestand Woods and Community Trails Input Survey before the end of the day on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019.

The primary objective at Hiestand Woods is to restore, preserve, and maintain the park’s natural habitat while linking the park to a broader community trails system. A Schematic Design has been created by The Edge Group, a planning, landscape architecture, and urban design studio based in Toledo, Ohio. This plan refreshes the park with improved amenities - benches, trash receptacles, lighting, drinking fountains, and more. Additional park elements might include integrated and naturalized play areas, redesigned shelters and picnic areas, restrooms, access to the waterfront, fitness stations, challenge courses, nature education elements, wildlife observation areas, and improved pedestrian, bike, and vehicular circulation.

Van Wert Trails and Recreation is focused on improved trail connections throughout the community, focusing first on the resurfacing and refreshing of the trail system around the city reservoirs. Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green, Ohio, is serving as a consultant for trail improvements.

A community input session was held at Hiestand Woods Park on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Area residents were able to learn about the challenges associated with both sites, recommended solutions, and proposed improvements. They were also given the opportunity to provide input on the future improvements and care of both resources. Highlighted input from the session showed that there is a support to:

- Mobilize community members to advocate for policies that support funding for parks and trails projects throughout Van Wert County.

- Connect future county-wide trails, especially from Van Wert to Convoy and Delphos.

- Maintain and provide better access to the Reservoir Trails. The current condition of the trail surface is a safety concern and residents are worried about the ability to maintain the trails in the future.

- Keep the Rustic and Natural Feel of Hiestand Woods, but provide increased accessibility via trails and sidewalks, improve parking, and provide permanent restroom facilities.

For more information on Hiestand Woods, contact The Van Wert County Foundation at 419-238-1743. For more information on the Reservoir Trails improvements, contact Justin Dickman at 419-513-0973.

Survey link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfQR4_OBUMCgfqXPYidBb84cuXpdhhmuCEJY52kE2WeMbQedg/viewform