Updated July 8, 2017
November 2013 – Tom Curtin terminated as Executive Director GPD.
December 2013 – Entire Board of GPD removed.
January 2014 – Lou Mucci and Mary Ruth Shumway, neither of whom have prior experience in land conservation or preservation, nor in park management, are sworn in as GPD commissioners.
February 2014– New Board hires Linda O’Brien to conduct evaluation of GPD employees, backdating contract and paying $16,000 to O’Brien personally (not through her business)
June 10, 2014 – Bylaw changes introduced at Board Meeting. (The board must propose changes at one meeting before being allowed to vote on them in the next meeting, according to O.R.C. 1545. Currently, the minutes of a board meeting are published only after a voice vote of commissioners at the next meeting, meaning no record of proposed changes to bylaws is available to the public until after they have already been voted on).
June 24, 2014 – Brian Johnston, who has 30 years of experience in law enforcement but none in land preservation or conservation, or in park management, is sworn in as the third GPD commissioner.
July 8, 2014 – At Mr. Johnston’s first board meeting, the new by-laws, which changed the GPD’s mission to put recreation on an equal footing with preservation and conservation, and which included a long list of permitted park activities, including oil and gas drilling and ATVs, are approved unanimously.
August 7, 2014 – Concerned citizens meet with a reporter from The Geauga Times Courier at Bass Lake. Commissioner Mucci and an armed John Ralph, constable and Judge Grendell’s liaison to the Park Board, “ just happened to drop by.”
August 9, 2014 – First group meeting of what is to be Protect Geauga Parks at Frohring Meadows. Over 30 attendees.
August 11, 2014 – GPD Board meeting at Meyer Center. Over 80 people attend, despite the fact that the meeting was rescheduled from an evening meeting to a weekday meeting at 9 am. Scheduled Town Hall meetings cancelled. Emergency Board Meeting scheduled for the next day at 7 am.
August 12, 2014 –Emergency Board Meeting held at 7 am. At 9:30 am Judge Tim Grendell, Interim Director John Oros, CFO Michelle Pennell and board President Mary Ruth Shumway meet with Geauga Budget Commission. Judge Grendell proposes suspension of the 1986 (renewed 2005) park levy and is informed that the budget presented is improperly structured.
August 23, 2014 – Second organizational meeting of Protect Geauga Parks. Over 80 people attend.
August 25, 2014 – Geauga Budget Commission suspends park levy for the full 2015 tax year.
September 9, 2014 – Geauga Park District Board Meeting. Protect Geauga Parks presents a petition to the Park Board signed by 2,500 people asking the Board to reverse the changes to the GPD bylaws. Instead, the Board removes the list of permitted activities from the bylaws, but leaves recreation on a par with conservation and preservation, and retains the power to change park activities at any time.
September, dates indeterminate – Trapping lottery approved for the first time in GPD’s history. Judge Grendell and constable John Ralph win lottery in both archery and muzzleloader categories. John Oros and relation win in muzzleloader category. Opening hours of Meyer Center reduced.
September 10, 2014 – Park employee purge. Directors demoted to managers. Communication Director post eliminated. Three laid off. Receptionists resign in solidarity.
September 18, 2014 – Judge Grendell addresses Tea Party sponsored meeting, slandering the opposition and presenting his version of events as “the truth.” Judge uses public money to buy full page “public service announcements” in three local newspapers to disparage opposition and spin his version of events.
September 22, 2014 – Shutterbugs nature photography club informed by park administration that their 10-year relationship with the parks will be terminated.
New parks administration fails to remember that the Shutterbugs were a parks program begun by staff members to encourage members of the community to use the parks in their photography and to provide images to the parks for public relations purposes.
September 25, 2014 – Judge Grendell orders that all legal notices now be published in News-Herald newspaper, ending longstanding relationship with Maple Leaf newspaper. (The Maple Leaf has published a number of letters to the editor in opposition to Grendell’s actions.)
October 12, 2014 – Protect Geauga Parks sponsors Conservation Social at the Log Cabin on Chardon Square. Nearly 100 attend, including the judge’s constable, who records the audio portion. Ed Buckles outlines the “Light Up the Darkness” candlelight vigil planned for the evening of Oct. 14, just before the scheduled park board meeting at the West Woods Nature Center.
October 13, 2014 – At 6:50 pm, GPD posts on its website that the Board meeting scheduled for the next day has been cancelled. No date, time or location is given for rescheduling the meeting. Also on this date, Geauga Park Interim Director John Oros is notified by Ohio EPA that the amenities installed at Bass Lake must be removed because they violate terms of EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsored Program.
October 14, 2014 – Protect Geauga Parks holds its planned candlelight vigil at West Woods despite the cancellation of the Board meeting.
October 17, 2014 – Judge Grendell submits to the county auditor his invoices for the full page newspaper ads used to present his views. The auditor believes the spending to be improper and forwards them to the county prosecutor. Judge Grendell issues a Court order to the county auditor, threatening him with a contempt of court order if the invoices are not been paid by the end of day.
November, 2014– After his election to a 6-year term as Geauga County Probate Judge, for which he ran unopposed, Judge Grendell writes to citizens who have criticizing GPD, the Judge, and the bylaws changes in newspaper letters to the editor, telling them that they can “howl at the moon for the next 6 years.”
November 5, 2014– Louis Mucci resigns his seat as vice-president of GPD Board. Remaining two Board members, Mary Ruth Shumway and Brian Johnston hold Board meeting, 7pm at Meyer Center.
November 8, 2014 – Protect Geauga Parks hosts Howl at the Moon Conservation social at KSU Burton campus.
November 25, 2014 – Bill Gertz is sworn in as third GPD Board member.
December 4, 2014 – Protect Geauga Parks hosts first in a series of conservation-focused presentations to educate residents about the value of the conservation mission of the parks. Dr. Jim Bissell’s talk on the “Importance of Conservation” is attended by close to 100 people.
December 9, 2014 – Last GPD board meeting of 2014, 7 pm at West Woods. A letter from Judge Grendell is read into the minutes. It is announced that all GPD Board meetings in 2015 will be held at Meyers Center at 3:30 pm on the second Tuesday of each month.
January 1, 2015 – Brian Johnston’s term as GPD commissioner expires. He expresses no interest in being re-appointed.
January 13, 2015 – GPD Board meeting. It is revealed that the $100,000 playground planned for Frohring Meadows Park has been cancelled .
January 25, 2015 – Protect Geauga Parks hosts a talk by Tim Barber of Environ International on the value of conservation. Held at Orchard Hills Center, nearly 100 people attend.
March 6, 2015 – Third GPD Board member chosen to fill open position. Jeffery T. Orndorff is an attorney and has been practicing law in Geauga County for nearly 40 years. He has no prior experience in land conservation or preservation, nor in park management.
March 12, 2015 – Geauga Park District posts online Survey to be available for responses through March 31st. This survey, developed by the Triad Research Group “was conducted to help guide the park district’s ongoing strategic plan by providing an updated picture of what county residents want to see and do while visiting the park” Paper copies were also made available in local libraries.
March 29, 2015 – Protect Geauga Parks hosts a talk by Harvey Webster of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on the recovery of the bald eagle in Ohio. Held at Geauga West Public Library, nearly 200 people attend.
April 2015 – The search for an executive director continues, 16 months after the firing of Tom Curtin. Protect Geauga Parks continues to investigate issues related to hunting and trapping in the parks and a haphazardly conducted survey of public opinion regarding the parks.
April 11, 2015 – GPD Park Commissioners Special Meeting at Affelder House went into Executive Session to discuss job search for Executive Director Position.
April 16, 2015 – Plans announced for summer Liberty Camp to be held at Chickigami Park for 4-day period, sponsored by Geauga County Tea Party, permit applied for by Linda O’Brien
April 18, 2015 – PGP hosts Supporters Meeting at KSU-Geauga to discuss updates/current issues and discuss supporting membership campaign
April 22, 2015 – GPD Park Commissioners Special meeting Presentation made by Keith McClintock about Western Reserve Land Conservancy
April 23, 2015 – Board votes to recommend removal of sports equipment from Bass Lake Preserve and soccer nets from Frohring Meadow in response to violations to agreements with Environmental Protection Agency.
April 25 and 26, 2015 – PGP marches in Maple Festival Parade – introduction of Odie the Coyote mascot.
April 29, 2015 – League of Women Voters of Geauga County hosts Free Speech Forum, “Current Issues Affecting the Geauga Park District”. PGP participated (John Augustine and Shelley Chernin, speakers) Geauga Park District declined participation.
May 12, 2015 – GPD Commissioners meeting – Skip Claypool, Township Trustee, makes presentation “The Dark Side of Conservation Easement” at the Geauga Park District Board Meeting.
May 20, 2015 – GPD attorney recommends changing bylaws of Park District to place public comment at beginning of meeting instead of following other agenda items. This passes at next meeting.
June 4, 2015 – Mrs. Shumway, President of GPD Board of Commissioners, announces that presentations will no longer be permitted at the board meetings. She cancels the scheduled presentation to be made at the June meeting by Ed Buckles, trustee of PGP.
June 12, 2015 – GPD Board of Commissioners names John Oros as the Executive Director of the park district. There were no interviews of any of the 34 candidates who submitted applications. Mr. Oros neither submitted an application nor participated in an interview. Vote from the Commissioners was 2 – 1 approval.
June 19, 2015 – GPD Board votes to remove recreation equipment at Bass Lake Preserve that were installed in violation of EPA guidelines.
June 25, 2015 – PGP announces three Shelter Sound Off events to hear from supporters.
June 27, 2015 – PGP posts the Geauga Park District Survey results online after receiving it from Triad Research Group. The Park District does not make the survey results available in any form to the public.
August 11, 2015 – At the Budget Commission meeting the budget presented by the Geauga Park District was rejected due to lack of details on plans and expenditures.
August 16, 2015 – PGP hosts Conservation Conversation presentation by Judy Semroc, Natural History Museum naturalist, “The Life and Decline of the Monarch Butterfly”.
August 19, 2015 – Geauga Park District holds Special Meeting to recreate budget, this time with a legally endorsed “slush fund” without specific projects or goals.
August 20, 2015 – PGP submits a letter to the Budget Commission asking that the Park levy, approved in 1986, not be rescinded as it was in 2014.
August 24, 2015- Geauga Budget Commission makes decision to approve Park Budget with warning that future decisions will be made following the budget with fidelity including spending money designate for land acquisition and capital projects.
September 3 – 7, 2015 – PGP has a booth at the Great Geauga County Fair to promote the organization and introduces Petition for Removal of Timothy J. Grendell from the Office of Probate Judge, to be delivered to the members of the General Assembly of Ohio.
September 20, 2015 – PGP hosts Conservation Conversation “Birds and People: A Powerful Combination” presentation by Kimberly Kaufman, Director, Black Swamp Bird Observatory
September 30, 2015 – Letter sent by Judge Grendell to all members of Ohio General Assembly about petition rebutting the PGP Petition. The petition had not yet been sent to the legislators and would not be submitted to them until February, 2016.
October 2, 2015 Park Commissioner Jeff Orndorff removed by Judge Grendell.
“Revolving Door Swings Again on Park Board” Geauga Maple Leaf.
October 14, 2015 Cleveland.com publishes article “Tea Party, Judge Grendell, Continue to Control and Corrupt Geauga Park District.
October 21, 2015 – Flyer sent by Judge Grendell to Geauga households and advertised in local media inviting residents to meet individually with him at one of several locations to talk about the parks over coffee and donuts.
October 24, 2015 – PGP hosts Conservation Conversation “Back to the Wild” presented by wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility.
November 10, 2015 – GPD Park Board meeting cancelled
November 15, 2015 – PGP hosts “First Annual Heroes of Conservation” Reception at Munson Town Hall honoring Judge Chip Henry, Dr Joseph and Betty Koelliker and Bob McCullough
December 8, 2015- 2 members of the Ohio Snowmobile Association speak at GPD Park Board meeting requesting permission to use snowmobiles at Observatory Park and any other land tract. Two commissioners (Shumway and Gertz) express concerns.
December 12, 2015 – PGP hosts “Sign on and Sound Off” gathering for petition signing and conservation with PGP trustees at KSU Geauga
December 15, 2015 – PGP develops White Paper “Protect What Protects Us”
December, 2015 – Mary Ruth Shumway not renewed as Park Commissioner. She continues to hold a job with the Juvenile Court
January 9, 2016 – Len Barker and Jackie Dottore are named GPD Commissioners.
January 14, 2016 – Mr. Oros announces that there will be a ”pilot” program of snowmobiling at Observatory Park. Announces that he does not need a vote from the commissioners to make this decision. Permits placed on website. Ultimately 40 permits were given and Mr. Oros declared the program a success, discounting reports from residents about off trail and unregulated use of snowmobiles at Observatory Park including video footage.
January 27, 2016 – Cleveland.com and Plain Dealer Forum publish editorial “Time to Remove Judge Grendell from Geauga Parks Oversight “urging Ohio Legislature to re-consider 99 year old law placing county park districts under the unfettered direction of probate court judges. “
January 29, 2016 – PGP photo-op at Chardon Square with over 40 supporters as kick off to taking Petitions to General Assembly in Columbus
February, 2016 – GPD Director of Visitor and Business Services is terminated.
February 3, 2016 – PGP deliver signed Petitions to all State Representatives and Senators in Columbus.
February 25, 2016 – Judge Grendell writes guest column in local newspapers maligning “protect the park group”
March 4, 2016 – Judge Grendell sends letter to be read aloud at GPD Board of Commissioners citing recreational activities at Delaware County Park District (attempting to make case that previous Park Director also embraces the same recreational activities as the GPD current director)
March 8, 2016 – Park Board meeting cancelled on March 7.
April 1, 2016 – Mr. Claypool, County Commissioner nominates John Oros as “Conservation” representative of the Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency (NOACA) Rural Advisory Committee
April 1, 2016 – Youth Turkey hunting permit appears on GPD website. Director and Board members refuse to answer questions about this at board meeting or by email.
March 20, 2016 – PGP hosts Conservation Conversation “Wetlands Will Save the World” presented by Ray Stewart, President of Ohio Wetlands Association.
March 29, 2016 – PGP hosts Shelter Sound off at Frohring Meadow to hear from supporters. Mr. Oros writes LTE denouncing PGP as “hijacking” the Geauga Parks by using the term “spring peepers” in the title in the publicity press release – apparently the park has propriety ownership of those frogs.
April 11, 2016 – GPD Park Board Meeting – John Oros states that he received requests for placement of cell phone towers at Beartown Reservation and Hyde-Kaplan – states that he will have a proposal at the next meeting for consideration by the board.
April 23 and 24, 2016 – PGP participates again in Maple Festival Parade.
May, 2016 Geauga Park District newsletter Voices of Nature includes page length column written by Judge criticizing and insulting residents who disagree with him.
May, 2016 – GPD Park Board Meeting – John Oros announces that after meeting with his staff the recommendation is for no cell phone towers in the parks.
May, 2016 – GPD sends flyer as introduction to new public education effort to all residents taking opportunity to complain about what is considered “a few misinformed people.”
May 25, 2016 – PGP presents Conservation Conversation “Climate Change: Your Decisions Affect our Future,” presented by students at Hershey Montessori Farm School.
May 2016 There has been no land acquisition by the Park Commissioners although prime properties have been available and there is designated money in the budget for such purchases
June, 2016 – Series of 3 commercials created and broadcast of Channel 8 news – two of the commercials include video and comments from Tim and Diane Grendell.
June 14, 2016 – At GPD Board Meeting John Oros, Director recommends removal of Public Comment from the agenda. Mrs. Dottore and Mr Barker vote yes. Mr. Gertz abstains for reasons other than an interest in maintaining public input. This goes into effect immediately. Following Executive Session the Board votes to enter into negotiations for a property in Hambden Township that abuts a State Hunting property.
June 2016 TO DATE: There have been 13 Park Commissioners under Judge Grendell’s appointment.
June 16 2016 – PGP hosts Shelter Sound Off at Orchard Hills Park
June 14, 2016 – Geauga Park District Board of Commissioners Meeting – Recommendation for Bylaws change made by Director, John Oros, and voted on by Commissioners Jackie Dottore and Len Barker, with Bill Gertz abstaining, to remove public comment from the agenda unless Board votes at each meeting to resume it on the agenda.
June 14, 2016 – Proposal for development at Hyde Kaplan Park unveiled at Park Board Meeting, including shelter, trails, fishing piers, boardwalk, nature-based play area, parking area. Commissioner Dottore requested that Park Planner Matt McCue investigate the possibility of adding more active features including a rock climbing wall and BMX course to attract teens and young adults, although Geauga residents voiced little interest in such activities in Geauga Park surveys of 2008 and 2015.
June 29, 2016 – Letter sent to Director Oros and Park Board from Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services on behalf of Protect Geauga Parks outlining violation of Ohio Sunshine Laws. Response received from GPD attorney on July 11
July 2016 – PGP mourns the death of Bob McCullough, longest serving park board member who inspired countless others to value the parks and cherish the natural environment
August 16,2016 – Geauga Park District Board of Commissioners approves purchase of approximately 200 acres in Hambden Township.
August 16, 2016 – Protect Geauga Parks submits questions to Park Board for response. Received email response from Director Oros stating that he would not respond to the questions nor meet in person.
August 23, 2016 – Budget Commission reviews and approves GPD budget
August 24, 2016 – Park Publication and email includes reference to candidate running for office as “future commissioner” as participant in park program. Reference was removed.
September 2016 – GPD announces giveaways of Youth Turkey Hunting permits to local organization for their auctions.
September 2016 – Protect Geauga Parks participates in Geauga County Fair, featuring petition asking State Legislature to amend the current Sunshine Law to require permission for public comment time at public meetings.
September 20, 2016 – Protect Geauga Parks looks into change in the 50-year Use Agreement between Geauga Park District and the Village of Middlefield regarding the Maple Highlands Trail South and sees addition of permitted snowmobiling. Contacts made with Village officials, neighbors and residents of Middlefield to oppose this change that was added by Director Oros without consent of the Village. On September 28 Middlefield Village Council requests an amendment to remove snowmobiles and motorized vehicles from the trail. New agreement was made by Park Board on September 30 amending the agreement to eliminate such use and passed by Middlefield Village on October 13.
September 23, 2016 – Judge Grendell invites PGP to meet with him at the Probate Court to discuss park issues. PGP responds on October 2` in the affirmative requesting meeting take place at the library, in a public park or at the local coffee shop. Judge Grendell responds on October 14 offering a meeting on October 24 at the Probate Court. His office is notified that PGP will reserve a room at the library but will not meet at the Court.
October 24, 2016 – PGP waits for Judge in meeting room at Chardon Library. Mr. Ralph, Constable of the Judge arrives to “escort” to the Probate Court. Escort declined. Meeting does not take place.
November 13, 2016 – Heroes of Conservation Reception, honoring Judge Robert B. Ford (Probate Judge who created Geauga Park District in 1961), Roy Podojil (former Russell Park Commissioner) and Sandy Seigler (former Russell Park Commissioner)
December 6, 2016 – Geauga Park District announces plans to open Observatory Park to snowmobiles.
December 13, 2016 – Park Board Commissioners vote to permit snowmobiles. Commissioner Gertz abstains. Audience not permitted to give input about concerns of violation of Dark Sky status of Observatory Park and violation of park’s own rules and regulations about motorized vehicle use and change of purpose of this park. PGP sends letters to supporters of Observatory Park to notify them of this change in purpose for this park.
December 2016 – Bill Gertz not reappointed as Park Commissioner.
January 10, 2017 – Park District meeting held at Probate Court probably as intention to intimidate supporters who attend the meetings. 35 supporters attended. Video and audio recording was not permitted at the meeting in violation of the Sunshine Laws. Mr. Andrej Lah introduced as new commissioner.
January 24, 2017 – Cleveland.com editorial calls for removal of parks from probate court jurisdiction.
March 14, 2017 – PGP sends Judge Grendell letter outlining repeated failure of his Boards to uphold the public trust he has given them, including not taking exhaustive search for most qualified Park Director, not providing long or short term vision for the Park, not adhering to desires of the public despite repeated surveys, not adequately reviewing Park projects and finances and funding pet projects of Board members with public monies.
April 19, 2017 – Representative Bill Seitz, Cincinnati sponsors Budget Amendment 1793 to increase judicial powers over parks spurring hundreds of letters, calls and emails to local state Representatives and Senators and members of House Finance Committee – PGP rallied supporters who responded with vigor and eloquence to contact, through calls, emails, letters and written testimony state representatives and senators, representatives sitting on the Finance Committee as well as letters to the editor of local and northeast Ohio newspapers.
April 20, 2017 – Conservation Conversation – Brett Rodstrom, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, speaks on Regional Land Conservation at Orchard Hills Center
April 26, 2017 – Ohio House Finance committee hears testimony against inclusion of Amendment 1793 to increase judicial powers over parks. Barb Partington, PGP Trustee, presented in-person testimony as did three elected officials of Geauga County.
April 2017 – PGP participates in the Chardon Maple Festival Parade
May 2, 2017 – Amendment 1793, expanding role of Probate Judge over parks, removed from budget bill
May 5 — Geauga League of Women Voters town hall session in Munson on Friday May 5 and raised questions about the Seitz amendment to LaTourette, Eklund and Patterson
May 20, 2017 – Representative Bill Seitz House Bill 218, Expansion of Judicial Powers over Parks. Bill is assigned to the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee who immediately begin to be contacted by opponents to this bill. Judge Grendell gives proponent testimony on June 7. The bill subsequently is not heard in another hearing and does not move forward during the General Assembly term.
May 25, 2017 – Kathy Hanratty testifies before the Senate Finance (budget) Committee at Ohio Statehouse against proposed language in budget bill that would allow forced unitization for drilling and fracking of local public parks, including county parks. The language was subsequently removed from the bill
June 1, 2017 – Conservation Conversation – Nathan Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council speaks on “Parks in Peril” at West Geauga Library
As of June 2017 Public Comment continues to be denied at Park Board Meetings