A good park looks like it's always been a park.

A good park looks like it's always been a park.

A good park hides its past, obscures the scars clawed before people cared for it.

So when you look north from West Whittier Street over the wetlands and grasslands of Scioto Audubon Metro Park, don't think it came easy. When you see the sunlight glance off its sparkling centerpiece, the Grange Insurance Audubon Center, don't think it always looked that way.

It didn't.

Rewind the same view five years, and you'll see the city's impound lot, a crumbling and despised part of town home to abandoned cars and rusty chain-link fences.

Rewind even more, and you'll see a scrap yard, a massive incinerator and even a city dump.

For decades, the Whittier Peninsula was the place to put things no one wanted to see. For decades, it was a place no one wanted to be.

But the dread has melted. The land has been reborn.

The park began taking shape in early 2008, and its crux, the Audubon hub, turns two on Aug. 28. The eco-friendly education center is the most obvious evidence that those behind Whittier's transformation have done exactly what they promised - pulled off a miracle.

"I believe it was a great idea from the beginning," said John O'Meara, executive director of the Metro Parks. "It didn't look like it at first. You had to see past that."

From a lone trail and a boat launch, the park has expanded to include a climbing wall, additional trails, boardwalks, wetland cells, observation decks, a dog park and a place that provides nature education to thousands of local students.

Even now, Scioto Audubon continues to expand and brighten. Metro Parks acquired the city impound lot earlier this year and has solicited neighbors about what they'd like to see there.

During the past two years, attendance has increased. The park is now a place people want to be. A miracle has come true for birders, climbers, hikers and bikers - and people are proud of it.

"There's a change in attitude," O'Meara said. "People are starting to come Downtown for this kind of stuff."