November 22, 2014

Elyria
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Cascade Park passes to Metro Parks

ELYRIA — It was a quiet vote and ordinance passage Monday that will have a far-reaching effect in the city.

After months of negotiation and discussion, City Council unanimously voted to enter into a long-term contract with the Lorain County Metro Parks for the operation of Cascade Park. The contract spells out a 50-year agreement between the entities as well as who will be responsible for certain repairs, projects and responsibilities going forward.

No Council person had anything to say about the agreement during the meeting, likely because after more than a year of back and forth with the county park district all that could be said has been.

“It was a little anticlimactic, but in a good way,” said Mayor Holly Brinda. “But I think that’s because we have gone over this so much and given the public so much information that we have built a consensus that this is the right way to go. We have explained the challenges of the park and how an agreement like this will have great benefits.”

Councilwoman Brenda Davis, D-2nd Ward, said Cascade Park is a gem in her community and she was glad to see the agreement finalized on the city’s end.

“Residents are going to be happy with the results because they will be able to enjoy Cascade Park again,” she said.

The park district still needs to formally enter into the agreement. Director Jim Ziemnik was not at Monday’s meeting and did not return a call to discuss when the park district’s board would vote.

He previously said the park district board would likely vote at the next regular meeting after Council approves the agreement.

The agreement does not go into effect immediately. Brinda said she anticipates the start date to be around January 2014.

Before the city turns over the day-to-day operations, a great deal of time and money will be spent by the city on several projects.

Parks and Recreation Director Frank Gustoff said this year the city will complete the East Falls sewer repair and deck rehabilitation project on the observation deck behind the Elyria Police Department, complete the Two Falls rehabilitation project, install a new sanitary sewer that runs through the park and address erosion along the west bank from Ford Road heading north.

Under the contract, the city would provide trash collection, water, sewage and electricity to the park, waive all building and permit fees associated with the park and provide law enforcement services. The city would also aid in fundraising for park improvements.

In exchange, Metro Parks would develop a master plan, handle park and facility improvements, write grant applications for the park and handle park programming.

Ziemnik has said the county-funded parks district will likely invest upward of $2 million in the park over several years, with a more definite amount to be made public as a master plan is developed.

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