The following article appeared in the Chagrin Valley Times on August 17. Our thanks to the Chagrin Valley Times for permission to republish the article here.
Chagrin Valley Times
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Geauga County Park District Commissioner Jackie Dottore asked that older children be considered as plans for a new park in Claridon Township take shape.
Mrs. Dottore made her request as the board was asked to approve a $129,450 contract with Environmental Design Group to begin planning for the 127-acre park, known as the Hyde-Kaplan property, which will be the first new district park since 2010.
Noting her strong advocacy for scouting, Mrs. Dottore said she would like to see more “scouting opportunities” after witnessing how excited and engaged scouts were at other park events.
She said a rock wall and obstacle course should be included in plans for the park that lies at the southeast corner of Chardon Windsor and Claridon Troy roads. “I want to get the 10- to 15-year-olds more involved,” Mrs. Dottore said.
She said the issue is more critical at this time because of the heroin problem that exists in the county.
Matt McCue, district planning director, if any features of the park are to be included during the planning, it must be done now to ensure that changes to the plan do not have to be made at a later date. Those changes would add to the cost, although the additional charges would not be “dramatic.”
“Trying to capture the older group is challenging,” Mr. McCue said.
Projected cost for developing the park, he said, is estimated at $1.4 million.
He said Environmental Design Group will take the district’s concept and plan for its development.
Once completed, he said, park commissioners will be given a chance to review it and offer comment. The design will also provide for a more accurate cost for its development.
Commissioner Len Barker agreed with Mrs. Dottore, saying the park needs to “target other ages too.”
Park Director John Oros agreed with commissioners, saying that age group is an “underserved part of the community,” attributing some of the problems that youth face is due to “lack of parenting.”
He said park staff will take a look at the suggestions and report back to the board.
The commission unanimously approved the contract for the design of the park.
The new park includes meadows, wetlands, swamp wetlands and forest. It also borders the district’s Maple Highlands Trail, which runs along the southern boundary of the property.
Access to the new park would be at its eastern boundary. A second access will be along Old State Road (Route 608) which borders the park to the east. A pull-off area and shelter are planned for the Old State Road access area.
Piers will be constructed at the lake to allow fishing.
The main feature of the park will be an enclosed shelter, housing between 50 and 100 people. An artist’s rendering of the new shelter pictured it as have a wall of windows, overlooking the lake. That shelter and parking area will be built in an area that was impacted by agriculture use and development in the past.
Trails are also planned through the wooded area of the park and a boardwalk is expected to provide access to the wetland areas.
Note: It is interesting that “getting ten to fifteen year olds more involved” seems to always require the construction of facilities that have nothing to do with the natural landscape of the park, such as obstacle courses and rock walls. How do these features fit into a park that is located in an area of wetlands, meadows and forest?
Why shouldn’t the board consider challenging the Park District staff to develop more educational and scientific programs—targeted to this age group—and provide the resources necessary to make such programs successful? The naturalists and other staff personnel have proven themselves fully capable of creating and conducting such programs and their ability to meet additional needs should not be ignored.