Our thanks to the Chagrin Valley Times/Geauga Times Courier for permission to republish this article.
Changes are not reasonable
Geauga Park District Executive Director John Oros’ latest letter to the editor looks increasingly like those emanating from Judge Timothy J. Grendell — lots of name calling and no specifics.
Mr. Oros states he could cite “many examples of false propaganda emanating from that group,” Protect Geauga Parks, but he fails to cite even one of fact.
I will certainly have no problem specifically listing a number of “fupas” committed by the Oros-Grendell administration as they apparently make every effort to undo the hard work of many park professionals and volunteers over more than 50 years. Mr. Oros speaks of his “reasonable changes.” Are these some of the reasonable changes he has in mind? I’ll call them their 10 commandments from the dark side. Rather than coming down from on high, these likely dribbled out of some septic outfall.
1. Replacement of competent, knowledgeable commissioners increasingly with people who have shown little previous interest in parks and natural areas and have little knowledge of such.
2. Issuing trapping permits in a state nature preserve in violation of law with no limit on species or numbers and with no consultation with the parks biologist.
3. Allowing snowmobiling in Observatory Park, even though the latest park district survey indicated the vast majority of citizens do not wish noisy, destructive activities like that in their parks.
4. Having trail-closed signs up at Observatory Park even on days when there is no snowmobiling permitted. Not much thought for people who desired to take a delightful walk in the quiet winter woods.
5. Stating on more than one occasion that there were “no issues” during the snowmobiling trial period, even though I offered to show them video of clear violations.
6. Allowing turkey hunting at Observatory Park this spring with no apparent consultation (to my knowledge) with their natural resource management department.
7. Reducing the professional staffing in the natural resource management department, even though the needs there continue to increase.
8. Spending huge sums for sports and recreational equipment and other areas, yet a simple thing like trail maps at some parks are unavailable.
9. Making no land purchases during the Grendell-Oros takeover that would have protected some fast-disappearing special natural areas in our county.
10. Increasingly stifling public comments at park commissioners meetings by severely limiting comment time and content.
John Oros states, “Please show up for one of our board meeting and see for yourself,” apparently regarding Protect Geauga Parks hijacking the parks. Yet the park district increasingly makes it difficult for the public to attend by scheduling meetings during the week at 10 a.m., when most folks are at work.
Protect Geauga Parks makes it easy for you to see what is really going on. We videotape all commissioners meetings and post them, unedited and unaltered, on our website. See for yourself. You will clearly see our goals, standards and why we were formed to protect our park district from the recent negative changes.
John G. Augustine. Parkman
Speak up for Russell parks
For anyone who cares about the future of Russell parks, I urge you to please attend the park meeting on May 9 at 7 p.m. at Russell Town Hall located on the corner of Routes 306 and 87.
After more than a year of disastrous decisions affecting Geauga parks, Judge Timothy J. Grendell has now appointed two new trustees to the Russell park board who appear to have the same agenda in mind for our local parks as Judge Grendell has for Geauga parks.
Both Linda O’Brien and Charlie Butters, the two new appointees, have expressed their desire to develop our parks instead of preserving them. Both have said that, even though Russell residents passed a levy specifically for the acquisition of land for preservation, they would not vote for any more land purchases and would stall any land acquisition by our township meant for future land preserves. Mr. Butters even intends to try to use $4,000 of taxpayer monies to hire a law firm to see if the land-purchase money could be diverted into developing our existing sanctuaries instead of using the money as stated in the levy.
Russell residents have made it clear that we want to keep our township’s rural atmosphere and want to continue to protect our natural resources, our air and water quality and the natural beauty that surrounds us.
We are fortunate enough to live in an area that is surrounded by numerous parks with playing fields, picnic pavilions, parking lots and playgrounds. Must every park be developed this way, or should some be left in their natural state so the sights and sounds of nature can still be enjoyed? Should $4,000 be spent at the request of two individuals to try to overrule what the residents have already clearly voted on?
If you feel that these two new trustees are taking our township in the wrong direction, then please help make our voices heard by attending the meeting on May 9.
Sharmyn Clark, Russell
Follow voters’ clear intent
We, the people of Russell, passed a levy in 2011 by a margin of 2-1 “for the purpose of acquiring land in Russell Township for conservation and for the preservation of water quality, wildlife habitats and woodlands.”
I am deeply disappointed that the two newly appointed Russell Township Park District commissioners, Linda O’Brien and Charlie Butters, have failed to use the land-acquisition fund created with our tax money to purchase Modroo Farm on Hemlock Road.
Modroo Farm is a gem, one of the last, if not the last, large parcels left in Russell. What a great opportunity we have to purchase this historic farm and turn it into protected parkland that all Russell residents can enjoy. It’s easy to picture a wheelchair-accessible asphalt trail around the perimeter of the farm, a memorial tree park, benches where we could watch the ground-nesting birds. How fitting such a park would be for our unique semirural community, with its long history of devotion to protecting and preserving green space.
Using the funds in the park district’s land-acquisition account, which consists of money obtained through our tax levy, to purchase Modroo Farm is exactly what the taxpayers of Russell authorized the park commissioners to do. We did not authorize them to use this money for any other purpose — not for development of currently owned property, not for operating funds and certainly not to hire lawyers to find ways to circumvent the levy language that we voted for, which limits the use of our money to land acquisition.
I hope that it is not too late for our Russell Park District commissioners to stop treating our land-acquisition fund as if it’s within their discretion to spend it any way that they like. I hope it’s not too late for them to change their minds, perform their duty as public officials and vote to authorize the purchase of Modroo in accordance with the wishes of the majority of Russell residents and with the founding principles of Russell Township.
Shelley Chernin, Russell