Wetlands work

City, Kroger team up on improving entrance

ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times Local photographer Bruce Wunderlich, as well as Marietta resident Russell Schreiber and his dog Brownie, take advantage of the beautiful weather Wednesday to visit the Kroger Wetlands. A partnership with Kroger, the City of Marietta and volunteers has seen upgrades to the wetland.

Thanks to a joint effort of different entities, the entrance to the Kroger Wetlands is now more visible and easily accessed off of Acme Street.

Several people took advantage of the beautiful weather Wednesday to wander through the wetland, including local wildlife photographer Bruce Wunderlich.

“I usually come here several times a week, on my lunch break,” he said. “The trails are nice and there are a lot of different birds. I wish we had more places like this in Marietta.”

A partnership between the City of Marietta, the Kroger corporation, residents and volunteers saw that the driveway and parking lot leading to the more than 14 acres of walking trails was covered recently with fresh gravel, at minimum cost to the volunteers who keep up the area.

“The lot had not had new gravel in, like, 10 years,” explained Kathy Ortt, a Marietta resident and wetland volunteer. “I initially asked the city to pick up and haul the gravel and they agreed to do so. When I started getting quotes for it to be spread and rolled, I realized that it was going to cost much more than anticipated, like $3,000 to $4,000. I went back to the city and they again agreed to also take on that task. This saved us a lot of money.”

Ortt said the “stars aligned” before Thanksgiving and the gravel drive was completed thanks to the funding from Kroger to purchase the 40 tons of gravel and the donated labor and manpower from the city.

“I worked with (City Safety-Service Director) Jonathan Hupp and Todd Stockel with the streets department. (Hupp) told me a few years ago that if there was ever any major maintenance that needed done, the city would help,” she said. “I think this is just a good time to bring the city back on board. This is something I would like to see as a model, this partnership between the city, businesses and volunteers.”

City officials did not immediately respond to repeated requests for comment Wednesday. Assistant City Safety-Service Director Bill Dauber said Hupp was out of the office and he did not have information about the project or any future projects.

The teamwork to keep the wetland an active and thriving part of the community is definitely something that is felt by those who use it regularly, however.

“We have really positive thoughts about the relationship (between the three groups),” said Russell Schreiber, of 515 Front St., who was walking his dogs Lucky and Brownie with his wife, Tammy, on Wednesday. “This was just a muddy patch before they put down this gravel. This is really nice.”

The Schreibers said they are unofficial volunteers that work with Ortt and Becky Wright, another active volunteer. Russell said he plans to make repairs to a platform overlooking one of the ponds in the wetland that is missing a board.

Ortt said the ongoing partnership will include the grocery chain printing new brochures in-house and repainting and staining the sign that leads to the parking area.

“The Kroger Wetlands provides a unique opportunity for local families as well as out-of-town visitors to enjoy nature within the city limits of Marietta,” said Kroger Mid-Atlantic Corporate Affairs Manager Allison McGee. “We appreciate the ongoing efforts of the volunteers and the City of Marietta in maintaining this environmental treasure and hope this improvement will result in more visitors.”

Ortt added that they are always looking for volunteers to help with the maintenance of the trails and kiosk. Those interested can contact Kathy Ortt at 740-373-3372.

At a glance

About Kroger Wetlands

¯ The site is 14.5 acres between Phillips Street and Kroger Shopping Center north to south and between Kroger to I-77 and Duck Creek east to west.

¯ The gravel entrance to the park is off Acme Street.

¯ The area includes ponds, trails and bridges.

¯ Native species of plants and animals include water plantain, cattails, cherry trees, warblers, catbirds, mallards and woodpeckers.

¯ Kroger donated the land; volunteers and residents maintain the trail with assistance from the City of Marietta.

Source: mariettaoh.net