Chagrin Valley Times
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 11:45 pm
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Conflicting reports were given Tuesday on how a trial run of snowmobiles fared in the Geauga Park District’s Observatory Park in Montville Township in February.
Park Executive Director John Oros’ called it a “successful trial program,” noting that no issues were reported to him. But residents charged that snowmobilers created a muddy, even mess along the trails, failed to stay within the permitted limits and denied hikers access to the trail.
Mr. Oros said there were 47 applications for 40 permits that were handed out.
“I am looking forward to hearing Mr. Oros stirring accounting of how snowmobiling was a great success at Observatory Park; a recounting of how the park has been opened to more visitors with no ill effects and how this needs to be expanded and extended next,” Troy Township resident Ed Buckles said, before hearing Mr. Oros’ report. “That is, if Mr. Oros in his new role as park czar deems it necessary to explain anything he does, because this board, contrary to good management and fiduciary responsibilities has abdicated its power to Judge (Timothy) Grendell’s puppet.”
Mr. Buckles said he personally observed the last Sunday made available to snowmobilers and saw visitors who had attended a program at the observatory being turned away from the trail by signs prohibiting their use of the trail, despite seeing no snowmobiles on the trails.
No rangers, he said, were present to check snowmobilers for their permits or whether they stayed on the designated trails.
“Snowshoeing the path the following day, we found low areas of the trail torn up or ice covered, or both, making walking difficult for people that week,” Mr. Buckles said. “The ice made by the machines was so bad in spots that even they (snowmobiles) left the path.”
He added that snowmobile paths were found running alongside the trees in an open field from the road to the designated trail, a violation of park directives.
“In essence, for the limited benefit of a very few people, who have a 90-mile option open to them, a trail was shut down for all practical purposes to the rest of the community of users for several days, there was significant trail damage and any nesting animals were disturbed by the noise and fumes. This is not a good use of our resources.”
Mr. Buckles then directed his comments to board members, asking them to do their job in overseeing the parks, rather than being directed by Mr. Oros.
“This board needs to realize that Mr. Oros, who has recently terminated a person with extensive financial knowledge and experience with the parks so that he has pretty much unfettered authority over park monies, works for you,” Mr. Buckles said. “You can terminate or demote him. He and what he does is a reflection on you and your reputation. Do the right thing – rein him in or fire him.”
John Augustine, a Parkman Township resident, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has cited that this past January was the warmest on record and that allowing snowmobiles in the parks has only endorsed an activity that emits more carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. He said he had video of the snowmobiles that had strayed from the permitted areas.
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