ELYRIA — Lorain County Metro Parks Director Dan Martin said he plans to attend the next public meeting where Elyria residents will sound off on what they see as the future of Cascade Park.
Martin, who for the last 20 years has created prize-worthy parks across Lorain County, said Thursday he will attend the Aug. 30 meeting in City Council chambers. However, if residents see his attendance as a sign that a future partnership between the city and Metro Parks is imminent, then Martin said residents should slow down.
He is coming to listen.
“In Elyria, the steps are being held out of order,” Martin said. “It’s important to engage the public, but when you engage the public too soon, you risk a project never working out. The details are being looked at before anyone asks the question of can this be done.”
Before Martin and the Metro Parks board can even begin crafting a partnership with Elyria to possibly take over Cascade Park, Martin said an invitation would need to be sent by a majority of City Council. That would mean that the city and its residents had reached a consensus that a partnership is wanted.
That has yet to happen.
“The board feels it is very important to be invited,” he said. “In Elyria, there has been much discussion, but at no time has the majority of City Council sent us a letter saying they want to engage in partnership discussions.
“I am not looking for a unanimous vote from Council, but I want to see that a majority of folks want to move forward.”
Mayor Bill Grace, who first mentioned possibly turning Cascade over to the Metro Parks, did not return calls Thursday.
At this point, it seems as if that invitation may just be a formality.
At a public hearing held earlier this month, residents and at least two Council member spoke publicly about how they want the Metro Parks involved in the discussion of the future of Cascade Park as either a city-owned and operated park or as another success story of the Metro Parks.
“I think I speak for a lot of people who are not happy that the Metro Parks is not here,” resident Dave Timko said at the first public meeting.
And, even though Martin said City Council has not called on the Metro Parks, he said he read a newspaper article on the meeting and decided to attend the next one as a reaction to the remarks.
“If I don’t go, people think we are standoffish,” he said. “If I do go, people could say, you were not invited. I think it’s a Catch-22 situation, but I think residents have a right to know we care. That’s what I am going to do to tell them.”
Martin said he will also share a detailed process the park system follows when it looks to establish and accomplish projects. That process success can be seen at Lakeview Park in Lorain, Miller Nature Preserve and Conservatory in Avon, and Splash Zone in Oberlin, Martin said.
“I believe and the board believes in having a plan that is doable,” Martin said. “Why do people continue to donate to Lakeview Park when the project is done? It’s because it’s immaculately maintained, and we have done what we have set out to do.”
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or email@example.com.