STOW -- Will Adell Durbin Park have any kind of rental facility for area residents to use?

This is a question that city officials are trying to answer.

The 34-acre park on the west side of Route 91, south of Route 59, has tennis courts, a playground and trails. What it does not have, as the much larger Silver Springs Park at the city's northern end has, is a usable structure that area residents can rent for events, such as weddings and parties.

"Those of us who grew up in the city and those of us who raised kids in the citythere was a lot of activity at Adell Durbin Park," City Councilor Bob Adaska said at Council's May 25 public improvements committee meeting. Adaska serves as the committee's chairman.

Adsaka asked Service Director Nick Wren to come up with some ideas for what might be done to provide a facility and what the costs might be for Council to discuss June 22.

Adaska also said the park needs restrooms that are in compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

"It's hard to tell youngsters that are in a wheelchair that there's nowhere to go," he said.

At one time, Adell Durbin had two lodges -- Denning Lodge at the south end of the park's parking lot, overlooking the tennis courts, and Campbell Lodge at the north end of the parking lot, near the playground.

Denning Lodge, however, has been gone more than a decade, a victim of age and disintegration.

"It was 2006 when Denning Lodge basically fell down the hill," said Wren.

Campbell still stands, but Wren said it is in bad shape and will need to be demolished.

"The [Stow] building department did condemn the building, I believe in spring last year," he said.

Wren told the Stow Sentry June 6 that demolition had not yet been scheduled.

Ritchie Road resident Nancy Kroft said she has lived in Stow since 1944 and she recalls a time when Adell Durbin, with its lodges, was more of a central focus of the city.

"The only thing we had in the mid-50s was that park that was given to us," she told Council. "It's a beautiful park."

Osage Street resident Gerry Bettio said she has lived in the city for nearly 50 years and she urged city officials to replace Campbell.

"Why don't we keep the things we have instead of thinking of things we'd like to have when we don't take care of the things we have?" Bettio asked.

Wren said the city currently has four park rental facilities, all in Silver Springs Park, including Heritage Barn, Silver Springs Lodge and two outside pavilions. He said Heritage Barn is especially popular as a rental site.

"It's booked from May 1 through the end of September," he said.

Wren said that in 2007 or 2008, the city commissioned an architect to draw up plans for a "multi-use facility" on the Denning site, with a large room upstairs that could be partitioned into two smaller rooms if needed and restrooms down below facing the tennis courts. The plan died because of the approximately $1 million estimated cost and the looming recession, said Wren.

"A more functional design would probably come in much less than that," he said, adding later that $500,000 was a "rough guesstimate off the top of my head."

Wren also said the current restrooms close to the Denning site are not ADA compliant because they predate the federal law and are therefore "grandfathered" and exempt. He said those facilities are usable, but also not in the best shape and that if the city opts to construct a new lodge, it would be best to build new restrooms as part of the lodge, rather than put money into the old structure.

Wren said that because rental facilities do take in revenue, he believes that having one at Adell Durbin would be worth it.

"I think it will be a good thing to see a rental facility over there," said Wren, adding that he is recommending the Denning site because of its view.

Councilor Brian Lowdermilk said, "I agree with everything you've said. Over the last couple of years we've had several residents come talk to us about it."

Lowdermilk recommended that a $75,000 insurance payment the city received for Denning, as well as funds the city receives for cell tower rentals, funding that is dedicated to park expenditures, be used to help pay the cost of a new lodge.

But Council President Mike Rasor said the insurance money was spent long ago and the cell tower funds, which, according to the city's most recent comprehensive annual financial report amounted to a little over $75,000 in 2015, always seems to be needed elsewhere in the parks.

Rasor suggested that if the park rental facilities are being extensively used, a new lodge could be financed and any profits over expenses could be used to pay down the debt.

"I agree with you on the demand," he told Wren.

Wren said rental fees the city charges are competitive with similar facilities in the area.

Parks and Recreation Director Linda Nahrstedt told the Stow Sentry June 6 that the four Silver Springs facilities generated $81,675 in rental fee revenue, with Heritage barn taking in $40,135 last year, Silver Springs Lodge not far behind at $36,670 and the two pavilions, Lakeview and Oaktree, taking in nearly $5,000 together.

However, Nahrstedt said costs, such as maintenance and utilities, have not been calculated.

Adaska told Council to "just put your thinking caps on and think about" what to do at Adell Durbin.

"I would just hate to walk away from Adell Durbin Park," he said. "It's a great resource for the city and we're losing a big part of that when Campbell comes down."


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