SIDNEY — Sidney Rotary Club members and city officials gathered in Tawawa Park Monday to dedicate a new shelterhouse and picnic area on Bertsch Hill.
“This has been a vision of our club for four years, so it’s exciting to see that it’s become a reality,” said Lisa Benanzer, Rotary Club president.
The open-sided shelter houses eight picnic tables under roof. There are three additional tables outside it. The structure is near new playground equipment that the city recently installed.
“Great cities have great public places,” said Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst as he dedicated the building. He recounted the history of Tawawa Park: that the Kah family, who owned the land, sold it in 1948 to a group of civic leaders who had incorporated as a nonprofit organization expressly to save it as a park and that the city assumed responsibility for it in 1955.
“My heartfelt thanks to each of you for coming this morning to join in this tremendous occasion as we dedicate this newest addition to our great park system. May the Rotary Club of Sidney sponsor many future community projects that illustrate to not only our community, but to the greater community, the Rotary motto, “Service above Self,” the mayor said.
Kurt Barhorst, who cochaired the project on behalf of the Rotary Club with Duane Gaier, director of Sidney Parks and Recreation, said the idea was first discussed in 2011.
“When the Girl Scout camp (which was adjacent to Tawawa Park) was given (to the city), we started to raise funds for a pump house, but that project stalled out,” he told the crowd of about 70 people. When he and Gaier next met, Gaier said, “I have a better idea.” The new shelterhouse, however, cost much more than the initial project would have.
“The board looked at how we were raising charitable funds and how we were giving back to the community,” said Rotary Charitable Foundation Committee Chairman Steve Shuchat. The Rotary Club has raised $25,000 and is still accepting donations toward project’s $48,000 price tag. The shelterhouse was built at no cost to the city. Monies from the Rotary Club’s charitable funds will make up what donations don’t cover.
“But we want to have as much of those funds available as we can for other projects,” Shuchat said.
Benanzer recognized Isaiah Industries for donating the shelter’s roof, Westerheide Construction for building the shelter, Freytag & Associates for design work, Western Ohio Cut Stone for pillars, Detailed Machining for the Rotary emblem embedded in the floor and John Sargeant and Walt Bennett for lead gifts. Sargeant celebrated 50 years of Rotary membership at the meeting.
Also recognized were city Councilmen Joe Ratermann, Darryl Thurber, Ed Hamaker and Steve Wagner, Sidney City Manager Mark Cundiff, Recreation Board members Mary Jannides, Tim Bickel and Amy Zorn, and Parks and Recreation staff Jennie Rogers and Jim Heuing.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.