City of Defiance Parks & Riverfront Master Plan

City of Defiance Parks & Riverfront Master Plan
April 18, 2024 mcdmarketing

A Plan for the Future

Do you have any big plans coming up? Many people are excited to share their ambitions for the future — and the City of Defiance is no different. But while others’ plans may take them to far-off, exotic places, the city’s goals are to improve the quality of life right here in Northwest Ohio.

In September 2023, the Defiance City Council adopted the Defiance Comprehensive Community Action Plan, a thorough examination of the city’s development goals and how they aligned with the needs of the community. A goal listed in the Comprehensive Community Action Plan is the creation of a Parks & Riverfront Master Plan, a thorough look at how green spaces around the city of Defiance connect not just to each other, but to neighborhoods and the downtown district.

“The Comprehensive Community Action Plan discussed how important the connectivity of the existing parks system, riverfront areas and water trails, walking trails and sidewalks, and bike paths are not only to each other but also to the neighborhoods and the downtown to move pedestrians,” said Defiance City Planner, Niki O. Warncke. “We wanted to take time to design and create meaningful, more in-depth connections city-wide. The Parks & Riverfront Master Plan will allow the city to meet that goal.”

According to Warncke, gaps in the city’s trails and water trails may prevent safe and convenient foot, pedal, and paddle traffic. “We have identified gaps in the pedestrian network that would allow us to request funding to bridge those gaps, whether it’s constructing additional sidewalks, bike lanes, or even kayak launches,” Warncke said. “By linking the parks via pedestrian pathways, we are essentially connecting the entire city so that people can safely travel via modes other than just vehicles.”

Niki Warncke

Niki O. Warncke

Defiance City Planner

While some riverfront sites are currently awaiting development, including Gateway Park and Buchman Park, Warncke said she is looking to others like Pontiac Park and Bronson Park to be connected via a water trail with the addition of canoe and kayak launches. “Having multiple locations for launches gives Defiance unrestricted access to the three rivers,” she added. “If we want to be known as a river town, we need to embrace our rivers.”

But this is not just a city initiative — Warncke added the Master Plan will involve the entire community, ensuring new developments will be designed to address residents’ specific desires. “Residents will be surveyed and interviewed for ideas and what they would like to see happen along the riverfront and in the parks,” Warncke explained. “This will be the blueprint that will get the city to the construction phase for riverfront development. Everything we have completed up to this point has been conceptual. The Master Plan will create timelines, phases, and overall costs for construction and will move the city forward from dreaming to doing. Defiance is excited to take the next step.”


The Master Plan is a continued commitment to improving Defiance’s already extraordinary parks system. During the last decade, the city has worked to update and maintain existing facilities, including:

  • Removing playground equipment more than 50 years old and replacing it with newer, safer equipment
  • Adding new ADA-compliant walking trails and sidewalks
  • Painting and repairing old shelters
  • The addition of Splash Park, which is entering its seventh season of providing free fun to local children

But the work is not done, she said — many parks around Defiance are still being surveyed for improvements. “Veteran’s Park at Latty’s Grove is the targeted park for upgrades in 2024-2025. We will replace playground equipment and rehabilitate the existing tennis court, basketball court, and baseball field to like-new status,” Warncke said. “We will create a walking path that encircles the entire site. We are also partnering with the Defiance Board of DD to build a bocce court! All the new upgrades will be wonderful, not only for the kids and families in the neighborhood but also for visitors from the region.”

Reconnect with nature in the natural spaces of Northwest Ohio. Learn more about outdoor spaces in Defiance County and plan a relaxing getaway.