BAINBRIDGE -- On May 1, residents can see a presentation by a group of Cleveland State University graduate students about the former Geauga Lake property and what could be done with it

James Kastelic, who co-teaches the class for the CSU graduate students with Dr. Wendy Kellogg, said 22 planning students have finished collecting information about what residents within a 3-mile radius would like to see done with the land.

"Because of the uniqueness of the situation here -- the fact that we have 600 acres -- they're just kind of looking at ideas for how it can be redeveloped," Kastelic explained.

The students will present a plan culled from the survey and other information at a public event May 1 at 4 p.m. at CSU's College of Urban Affairs, 1717 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, in the Dively Room on the first floor. It will be a public presentation of the students' findings and ideas, which is part of their coursework.

Cedar Fair allowed the students onto the property for a tour, and Kastelic said the students' conclusions would be shared with the company, adding neither he nor the students were paid for the study.

Kastelic said 300 copies of the survey were mailed to residents, and students also interviewed people in person at certain locations.

The students' plan will be based upon research, the survey and any constraints on the property, including zoning regulations, possible deed restrictions associated with the proposed Meijer store at the park's former main parking lot along Route 43 and environmental factors, he said.

"From a planning standpoint, they're using all their skills," he said of the students' capstone educational experience. "Hopefully, they can come up with some good ideas. We told them to think creatively and out of the box."

Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said more ideas for the potential development are welcome.

"From my perspective, other ideas are welcome," the mayor said, although "there's no direct relationship between what the graduate class is doing and Cedar Fair's master plan. Ultimately, what happens with the Geauga Lake property depends on to whom Cedar Fair sells it."

MASTER PLAN FOR LAND

Cedar Fair has presented a master plan developed by Environmental Design Group to Aurora and Bainbridge officials to help guide redevelopment of the 650 acres spanning the two communities. No legislative action is required for Cedar Fair to use the plan, according to officials from both municipalities.

Womer Benjamin said the city had input and supports the plan, which Cedar Fair paid for and owns.

"We do have zoning and design standards that are very similar to what Bainbridge adopted," she said. "We have been collaborating and working together for a uniform development."

Aurora Law Director Dean DePiero agreed the conceptual master plan could be helpful in presenting a shared vision for the property.

"We like the concept," he said. "It's not a set-in-stone concept, but we participated and think it's a good idea to have a plan like that."

Bainbridge Trustee Lorrie Benza said the trustees have acknowledged receipt of Cedar Fair's master plan and confirmed it complies with the township's mixed-use zoning code for more than 300 acres on the Bainbridge side of the property.

Benza noted that the trustees did not know about the students' survey prior to a Feb. 27 presentation to township trustees by the students. "I didn't have a very good understanding of what the connection would be between the students in this program and Cedar Fair's master plan," she said.

A Cedar Fair official did not return a call from the Aurora Advocate seeking comment.

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