For years, park planners in Streetsboro and Portage County have eyed the ecologically sensitive western third of the city has a potential area for a greenway, a series of connected parks and trails originating in the headwaters of Tinkers Creek and extending north, ultimately connecting with Seneca Ponds Park or other parks or trails at the north end of town.
With the establishment of Trail Lake Park, 130 acres previously owned by the Gressard family, the Portage Park District has gained a foothold in the Tinkers Creek headwaters area, according to Christine Craycroft, executive director of the parks district.
"We probably won’t be opening it until this time next year," she said of the young park, but between now and then the park district will be busy on the land bounded on the east by Ferguson Road and the south by Ravenna Road.
The Streetsboro Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a site plan amendment to add parking for 50 vehicles with land banked to add an additional 32 spaces along a drive off Ravenna Road into the park, according to plans.
Craycroft said the park district’s goal is to get the parking lot installed this fall, but additional improvements ought to be finished when the park formally opens next fall.
"We did just hire an engineer to work us to develop those plans," said Craycroft. "The engineering and design process will last through the end of this year. We’re hoping to go out for bids early next year."
Some of the features the park district is considering include access for non-motor boats to Lake Gressard, which was a salmon hatchery back in the 1950s. Craycroft also said a 1.5 to 2 mile handicap-accessible trail is likely, as well as picnic areas and restrooms and someday structure for gatherings.
"We’re not sure about the structure at this point," she said. "We think we have the funding to do the trail along the old railroad. We’re thinking of putting the parking lot in this fall and then the access to the lake for paddling and fishing."
Those improvements would comprise phase I of the park’s development, costing about $250,000 for the parking lot (offset by a $50,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation), $65,000 for the restrooms and a "few hundred thousand dollars" for the trail, said Craycroft.
"Phase II would be to construct a shelter and trail connection to Herrick Fen," she said. "Most of the park development funds would come from our limited general fund, though private donations would greatly help. Supporters can make donations to the Portage Park District Foundation."
In addition, she said the Portage Park District is hoping to acquire more land along creek’s and in the vicinity of Herrick Fen.
Because of the grants that helped pay for the $1.26 million property (which was less than market price), Craycroft said only passive recreation, such as hiking, biking, fishing and picnicking, would be permitted at the park. With grants totaling $1.05 million, the Portage Park District paid $150,000 of its own toward the park, which was made possible by the county approving the Portage Park District’s 0.5-mill levy in 2014.
In addition to providing recreational opportunities, conserving Trail Lake Park will preserve water quality since it is part of Tinkers Creek headwaters area. Not developing the property as housing also will help guard against future flooding in the area, said Craycroft.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, email@example.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.