Cleveland Plain Dealer
January 29, 2019
By James Ewinger email@example.com
also seen (with pictures) at:
Opposition group meets to plan park defense
Russell Township —
Conservation activists concerned about the future of the Geauga Park District caucused Saturday, outlining the issues and fielding questions from supporters.
The group, calling itself Protect Geauga Parks, said the meeting at Old Russell Town Hall was necessary because the board of park commissioners has made attending board meetings difficult and speaking at the public meetings impossible. About 20 people attended.
The issues are compounded by instability in the park board and administration.
Ed Buckles, a member of the group, said the park district began around 1960 and had no more than eight different commissioners on its three-person board during the first 50 years.
”In the past two years, they have also had eight,” Buckles said.
Kathy Hanratty, president of the group, said the current board wants to defund the park district and ”is already bringing in activities that disrupt natural habitat,” including snowmobiling.
She said the district faces the same problems as the national parks, because both are under siege by conservative elements who think parks are burdens for taxpayers and that land belongs in private hands.
Geauga County and the park district are of great ecological importance, group members said.
”Geauga County has the highest density of large intact wetlands in the entire state,” Hanratty said.
The county also has the headwaters of three rivers that are vital to the region: the Cuyahoga, the Grand and the Chagrin, Buckles said.
Dave Partington said his job is dealing with legal issues for the group, and any court actions are going to be expensive.
He said the group failed in an attempt to get the state legislature to remove Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Tim Grendell, who has the power to appoint the park board.
He chuckled when he said that Grendell, a former legislator, wrote each state lawmaker, ”calling us political terrorists.”
Efforts to reach the judge and park board president Jackie Dottore for comment were unsuccessful.