Posted March 22, 2020
Coronavirus or not, the city of Toledo still plans to meet Thursday with contractors who might want to bid on a major wetlands project the city hopes to have done in North Toledo later this year to provide more wildlife habitat and help improve Maumee River water quality.
The 10 a.m. pre-bid meeting will be at the upcoming work site on North Summit Street near Haynes Avenue.
Karen Ranney Wolkins, commissioner of Toledo’s parks, recreation, and forestry division, told The Blade the city is sticking to its previously announced bid deadline of April 7 to keep the project on schedule. Attendance is not mandatory to bid. All bids are due by 1:30 p.m. of each deadline, and read at 2 p.m., according to a city website.
“Yes, we plan on having the pre-bid meeting on site,” she said. “We will be practicing physical distancing to protect attendees.”
The plan is to convert a vacant, 59-acre site known as the Penn 7 property into a functional wetland with money from the U.S. government’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, John Hull, principal of Toledo-based Hull, Inc., said.
One of the biggest goals is to provide nursery habitat for small fry of walleye and other fish species spawned in the Maumee River, thereby improving their odds of avoiding predators and growing bigger before going out into Lake Erie.
There is no public access now and none planned for the immediate future, but the project could eventually provide more recreational birding opportunities within the city, Jenny Carter-Cornell, Hull funding practice leader, said.
Penn 7 was one of several confined disposal facilities built in the 1960s and 1970s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mr. Hull said.
He said the improvements will turn the site into a “passive natural ecosystem.”
The project has long been identified by the Maumee Area of Concern program as a priority for restoration, Ms. Carter-Cornell said.
The site, owned and managed by the city, is a former confined disposal facility along the lower Maumee that holds silt dredged from it nearly 50 years ago.
The material from that particular dredging was dug out of the river in 1972 and 1973 to help keep the Toledo shipping channel open. The Maumee and other parts of the local shipping channel, mostly in western Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay, are the most heavily dredged parts of the Great Lakes region because of how shallow the water has historically been near Toledo.
Work will include construction of a water-control structure to better connect the hydrology of Penn 7’s low interior with the Maumee River, engineering work that would allow river water to flow through the system.
The plan is to promote more fish and wildlife production while capturing more of the polluted runoff from streets that otherwise would go straight into the river, according to a description written by the city and circulated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
“There will also be a forested upland area near the center of the CDF created from relocated on-site soils,” according to the write-up. “The northern embayment area will be protected by construction of an in-water dike to control water levels, and installation of a water control structure will connect the embayment area with the Maumee River to create improved habitat, including ideal fish nursery habitat. Trees and other plantings will be installed within the site to provide additional habitat and eventually help soften the shoreline.”
The design team also includes state and federal agencies.