The Portage Park District and its partners recently completed its newest addition to the countywide park system: A 215-acre property in Kent and Brimfield, the district announced recently.
Located north of Howe Road, the land features rolling hills, old fields, mature woods, over a half-mile of Plum Creek, and more than 50 acres of sphagnum peat bog, a rare ecosystem in Ohio. The land is adjacent to the Tom S. Cooperrider Kent Bog State Nature Preserve.
Formerly owned by the Carter Jones Lumber Co., the acquisition was made possible through a partnership with the company and the park district, the nonprofit Ohio Valley Conservation Coalition and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.
Funding came from the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund and the Ohio EPA's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program which funds projects that protect and improve water quality.
"Carter Lumber has hundreds of employees that live and work in Portage County. We are pleased to know that this land will be conserved and developed into a park for so many people to enjoy this beautiful area in the county that our company calls home," said Charles Price, the vice president of construction and development.
Christine Craycroft, executive director of the park district, said the acquisition was funded entirely with grants and donations.
"The permanent protection of an important natural area in a region under high development pressure not only helps to buffer the nature preserve, it also protects rare species, water quality and wildlife habitat," she said.
"Meanwhile, it has tremendous potential for healthy recreation and nature education. We're very grateful to Carter Jones, their real estate broker NAI Cummins and our other partners for their contributions in creating this natural legacy for current and future generations."
Joel Wood, chairman of the OVCC, said a project of this scope can be complex, involving multiple public and private funding partners.
"With its rare ecologies, aesthetic beauty and proximity to the city of Kent, I have no doubt that this property will be enjoyed and treasured by countless generations," said Neal Hess, the broker and owner of Conservation Realty Group, who represented the Park District on the transaction.
The property won't be ready for daily use by the public for a couple of years, Craycroft said. Initial work will center on eco-management and developing a master plan to identify appropriate locations for low-impact facilities and trails. Possible uses including hiking, biking, picnicking and simply enjoying nature.
"It'' exciting to think about the creative possibilities for park design, considering the landscape and its location," said Craycroft. "We're looking forward to engaging the public along the way as we move forward with the planning process."
For more information about the Portage Park District, visit www.portageparkdistrict.org or call 330-297-7728.