YMCA, park district partner on center

FOSTORIA – Geary Family YMCA and the Seneca County Park District signed an agreement Tuesday to team up on the use of the YMCA’s Fruth Outdoor Center on SR 18 east of Fostoria.

“We see it as a joint venture to utilize the property to its fullest, while we’re only using half of it,” said YMCA Director Eric Stinehelfer. “Collaborations are key in today’s economic climate to be sustainable. We feel this is a win-win for both organizations.”

The park district has been hoping to have a presence west of Tiffin for several years where Program Director Linda Rose can provide nature-based educational programs. When Bill McAllister, former director of Fostoria’s YMCA, was appointed as a park board member, he suggested the partnership.

“I think it’s a win-win for us and they think it’s a win-win for them,” said park board Chairman Roland Zimmerman.

“It’s a nice piece of property for our Y to have,” Stinehelfer said, “for not only our outdoor sports but a place just outside of the town to enjoy the wildlife.

“(The partnership) allows an opportunity to utilize that space for wildlife and other nature activities and programming that the Y’s not a leader in. We are more on the side of athletics out there.”

The center, at 10130 W. SR 18 east of Fostoria, has about 20 acres of which 10 acres are wooded and 10 acres are open.

Stinehelfer said the open area is used for soccer and flag football, but the wooded area and its trails are not often used.

The center also includes a picnic shelter, a playground and Roppe Lodge, which has restrooms and electricity and is used as a rental hall for family reunions, graduation parties and weddings.

The partnership is the fourth cooperative agreement the park district has entered into to provide public natural areas in the county. Others are with Tiffin University Nature Preserve, Seneca County Opportunity Center’s Opportunity Park and Mercy Tiffin Hospital’s Mercy Community Nature Preserve.

In addition, the park district owns Clinton, Forrest, Garlo, Steyer and Zimmerman nature preserves.