August 23, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria considering turning Cascade Park over to Metro Parks

ELYRIA — City Council adopted the Cascade Park Redevelopment Plan, a 25-year master plan for the city’s first major park, on the same night that Mayor Bill Grace announced he is ready to accept it may be time to consider giving the park to another entity to operate.

Up until Tuesday, Grace had publicly denounced the idea of giving Cascade Park to someone else — the Lorain County Metro Parks being the most popular choice in the community. However, he now seems to be softening to the idea.

“It’s time for serious discussion about the future of the park,” he said. “Cascade Park needs millions, if not tens of millions, in improvement, and unless we are ready to start committing to that kind of investment, we need to seriously discuss turning the park over to another entity.”

Going to the taxpayers for money for the park does not seem a likely solution because repeated ballot initiatives in recent years have failed, he said.

“I’m disappointed we have not been able to rally the community support needed to preserve the park,” Grace said.

Grace stopped short of calling for a public meeting to discuss the future of Cascade Park, and Council members had little to say about the idea.

Councilman Larry Tanner, D-1st Ward, was the only Council member to offer an opinion and in doing so championed Grace for finally admitting the city can no longer adequately operate Cascade Park.

“You are 100 percent right,” Tanner said. “The Metro Parks is who we should turn Cascade Park over to, and I will do whatever it takes to make it possible.”

Tanner said Elyrians are dreaming if they think the city has $30 million to $40 million to invest in Cascade Park.

Talks about Cascade did not stop Council from accepting the donation of three parcels of land from longtime Elyrian Jack Smith for the creation of the Black River Audubon Park on West Bridge Street. The park would be just over an acre, but with its close proximity to the Black River, Smith hopes parkgoers will see it as a perfect place to sit and appreciate nature.

By accepting the property, the city agrees to Smith’s terms — that he name he requested for the park be used and the second requiring that if the city chooses not to develop a park, the land returns to his estate.

Community Development Director Angie Byington said the city’s Parks Board, which provides recommendations for the city’s park system, still has to meet to discuss what should be done with the park and maintenance plans.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.