Chagrin Valley Times
July 20, 2017
RUSSELL – Residents and property owners near a proposed park entrance on Music Street are uniting to make their concerns known to township trustees and the Geauga Park District.
The park district is planning an entrance driveway and a parking area for horse trailers on the south side of the West Woods Park off Music Street.
Plans call for a gravel driveway for a parking area to accommodate five to eight horse trailers and a pavilion. An existing pond near the site will be used for fishing, with a dock to be added,Geauga Park District Executive Director John Oros said.
“We plan on proceeding as designed and as presented and approved by the board of park commissioners,” Mr. Oros said. The project is expected to start in 2018. Residents said they observed surveying recently on the property.
Many who live near the proposed entrance and parking lot gathered July 10 at the home of Frank and Kim Kanzinger on Music Street.
Mr. Kanzinger noted that they were the only home on Music Street that received a notification letter from Mr. Oros about the plans.
What residents especially found upsetting was that many of them raised money several years ago to help the park district buy the 100 acres off Music Street so it would not be developed and would be kept as passive parkland.
“It’s a tremendous waste of Geauga Park District money,” said Russell resident and veterinarian Sharmyn Clark, who co-owns an 8-acre parcel adjacent to the proposed parking area. “There is enough parking for horse trailers off Route 87. The most I’ve ever seen there are three horse trailers. To put another horse trailer entrance off Music Street is taking up green space and that is a waste.”
Residents planned to attend the Russell Township Trustees meeting on Wednesday (July 19) to talk to them about the matter, said Mr. and Mrs. Kanzinger. They have also contacted members of the Protect Geauga Parks group.
A roadway and parking lot are not what residents want in that location, Mr. Kanzinger said. It is especially not safe, with a blind hill in that location, he noted. If a vehicle pulling a horse trailer pulls out of the proposed entrance it could be very dangerous, he said.
They have many questions, including the environmental impact, loss of greenspace, loss of peace, quiet and serenity, loss of property values, how it will be policed and who will supervise the proposed fishing dock.
They also questioned whether it will become a nuisance and bring in unsupervised juveniles, and attract motorcycles and ATVs. The area lacks an adequate buffer to existing houses.
They noted that there also is a wetland area that could be affected. In addition, the intersection of Music Street and Chillicothe Road (Route 306) already is a problem with heavy traffic and no traffic light. Horse trailer traffic will make it worse, residents said.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” Mr. Kanzinger said.
People travel fast on Music Street and the drivers of horse trailers will find it hazardous, as do those on bicycles, he said, because of the blind hills.
There is adequate accessibility for horse trailers at the West Woods’ main parking area off Kinsman Road (Route 87) in Russell, Mr. Kanzinger noted. Only two to three trailers are seen in that lot which can park 10 trailers or more.
Horse people say they would like longer and better looping trails in the park, Mr. Kanzinger said. The park district would be better off putting money into trails, he said.
Dr. Clark’s property is surrounded on three sides by the West Woods and she said they get massive run-off water from the existing pond, which they are OK with because it is clear water.
“With a parking lot and trailers, there will be oil, gas and manure flooding onto the park property flora and fauna,” she said.
She recently walked her property with a naturalist from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Museum. The naturalist wants to bring other members of his team in at the end of July to review the flora and fauna.
Dr. Clark said that residents have not been permitted to talk at the Geauga Park District board meetings.
“We would bring this out, but our rights are stripped,” she said. “We are not allowed to speak. We can’t sit down with them and talk.”
Susan Festa lives directly across from the proposed driveway entrance, where there is currently a footpath and horse trail.
“It’s a poor use of park money,” Mrs. Festa said. It runs counter to the park’s mission of preservation not development, she said. “We’re talking of a small area with a lovely meadow now with a pond.”
The parking lot would eliminate wildlife habitat for the sake of a few people who will come with trailers,” Mrs. Festa said.
She noted that the land was originally purchased for green space with funding contributions made by Music Street residents, she noted. Some 100 acres was purchased in the mid-1990s with support by neighbors for the green space.
“And now the Geauga Park Board is approving this without discussion with residents and some will be extremely impacted,” Mrs. Festa said.
Most people in the area ride down Music Street to the trail. “They can get there faster than loading up their horses in trailers.
Her yard looks out to the park, she said, and she enjoys the views of cattails, wild crab apple trees and ducks, herons and red-wing blackbirds.
“This is going to destroy more of what is there and will impact the wetlands and it needs to be addressed,” Mrs. Festa said.