This article originally appeared on Chagrin Valley Today, the website of the Chagrin Valley Times and Geauga Times Courier. Our thanks to the Chagrin Valley Times for permission to republish the article here.
Chagrin Valley Times
Wednesday, December 14, 2016 11:45 pm
By JOAN DEMIRJIAN
Russell Park District Commissioners are welcoming ideas for the Modroo farmland being purchased by the park district and the Western Reserve Land Conservancy for $1.55 million.
Park Commissioners Charlie Butters, Linda O’Brien and David Genske were expected to meet Wednesday of this week at the West Woods Park nature center in Russell and hear suggestions from residents.
The purchase of the approximately 53 acres of former farmland on Hemlock Road is expected to be finalized today. The park district is putting $1.2 million toward the sale price of $1.55 million with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy paying the rest.
“We want a lot of input on what people want to see,” Mr. Butters said. “They are paying and they should have a say.” Residents have through the years approved levies to specifically pay for acquiring land for parks in the township.
The former Modroo farm was used for growing hay. A trail around the land and a small parking lot are planned and will be funded by the land conservancy.
The land conservancy also wants to develop an 18-acre wildlife conservation area in the southeast corner of the property. Some of it will be wooded and there will be a trail through it. A portion will be reserved for ground-nesting birds.
“We want to get all the ideas on the table and see what is wanted,” Mr. Butters said of residents’ proposals.
Ideas are welcomed in writing to the park district’s website and will also be considered in discussions at the park commissioners’ meetings. The website is http://www.russelltownshipparkdistrict.com.
Resident Shelley Chernin, a supporter of using the land for a park, is encouraging others to provide input to the commissioners.
It is important to stay involved by attending board meetings over the next few months and by writing to the board, “in order to make sure that Modroo becomes the park that people in the community want it to be,” she said. “Do you want recreational fields, a wheelchair accessible trail, a picnic area, a pavilion – let your voice be heard.”
Russell Trustee James Mueller has indicated that the second park district, now being formed, might consider buying the adjacent Modroo farmhouse and barn.
The house, the barn on the opposite side of Hemlock Road, an orchard and paddock are all separate from the acreage being bought by the existing park district.
Mr. Mueller said the new township park district could ask for a levy to buy the farmhouse and barn. “It’s my goal to save all of the Modroo farm,” he said.
The scenic farm is seen as an icon in the community. Many remember visiting the farm in the past to buy produce from farmer Harry Modroo. The land and homestead is being sold by his niece Mary Modroo.
Preservation of the Modroo farm has been a priority since 1999 for the land conservancy and former Russell Park District commissioners. Members of the current park board are appointed by the Geauga probate judge.
Voters next year will have the final say on whether the second park board, whose members would be selected by township trustees, is established. The petition drive to start the new park board was launched by residents unhappy with the pace of the Modroo purchase.