November 23, 2014


Lorain County Metro Parks board unveils plan for future

James E. Ziemnik, Lorain County Metro Parks director, and Cookie McLoda, board chairman, discuss the future plans of the Lorain County Metro Parks with the Chronicle-Telegram on Tuesday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

James E. Ziemnik, Lorain County Metro Parks director, and Cookie McLoda, board chairman, discuss the future plans of the Lorain County Metro Parks with the Chronicle-Telegram on Tuesday. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Having many individual jewels in the Lorain County Metro Parks crown standing alone does nothing to advance the highly regarded park district, which is why park officials unveiled a 10-year plan with a goal to connect many of them.

The plan, unveiled Tuesday, comes as Metro Parks board members are weighing whether to ask voters to approve an increase in its operating levy in November.

The district doesn’t have the money to pull off the next 10 years of goals and recommendations, said Director Jim Ziemnik, noting the goals would cost $17 million to $18 million.

A 10-year, 1.3-mill levy that brings in about $7.9 million per year comprises the bulk of the Metro Parks’ roughly $10 million annual budget. The rest comes from revenue, grants and donations.

Board members will decide at a meeting next month whether to add 0.2 mill, which would bring the total brought in by the levy to a little more than $9 million, or add 0.3 mill, which would bring the levy to about $9.8 million per year.

The owner of a $100,000 home would pay 88 cents a month more for the 0.3-mill option.

Sherrill “Cookie” McLoda, board chairwoman, said the board will use a presentation about the plan today to gauge how county residents would feel about additional millage. She said the board knows a straight renewal will not get them the capital to advance toward its big goals but it will act accordingly.

A poll conducted in late 2013 is bolstering belief that an additional millage would be met favorably. Ziemnik said the poll by the Public Service Institute at Lorain County Community College, figures support of a new levy could be as high as 65 percent.

At the top of the capital projects list is the renovation of Cascade Park in Elyria.

Ziemnik said the Metro Parks will assume control of the historic park Jan. 1 from the city of Elyria, and by the end of 2015 be ready to unveil the park’s master plan. From there, it will be another five to six years to upgrade Cascade Park.

Metro Parks plans to spend $2 million at Cascade Park, with an additional $1.5 million in sponsorships, grants and donations.

Other plans include connecting various parks throughout Lorain County — Wellington Reservation to state Route 18, state Route 18 to the North Coast Inland Trail in Oberlin, Bridgeway Trail in Lorain to Lake Erie, Indian Hollow Reservation to a small wetland park in Grafton and Amherst Beaver Creek Reservation to Hollstein Reservation.

The Metro Parks also sees a need to develop a park on the Sheffield/Sheffield Lake border. An area near Harris Road in Sheffield is being mapped out as a possible location because the potential exists to connect it to Ferndale Park in Sheffield Lake.

Between 2004 and 2014, the park district has grown from a little more than 8,500 acres to nearly 10,000 acres. Additions have included the Wellington Reservation, Columbia Reservation, Mercy Health and Recreation Center in Amherst, Miller Nature Preserve in Avon and the restoration of Lakeview Park in Lorain.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


  • Residents interested in learning about the park district’s vision may attend one of the unveiling sessions 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. today at Mercy Health & Recreation Center, 47160 Hollstein Drive, Amherst.

  • oldruss

    If you don’t have the income now (tax dollars already being sucked out of taxpayers’ pockets) to operate what you have built, how can you honestly plan to expand the park system? Take better care of what is already part of the Metro Parks system. How many people actually use ANY of those “trails” that connect the various areas of the county? Concentrate your limited (they ARE supposed to be limited) resources where most taxpayers enjoy the parks.

    • Sis Delish

      Gotta build more urban parks for drug dealers.

    • HankKwah

      Quite a few folks use the trails that connect the parks. People jog, run, bike, and take walks along those for exercise. My kids use’em, and when I’ve used them, I’ve seen parents taking their young kids in strollers and wagons for walks. They are very popular and quite scenic. They can count me in for my cash.

      • golfingirl

        I agree.

        Just looking at Lakeview Park before the Metro Parks took it over, versus before when the City of Lorain ran it, the results are obvious.

    • Otter

      They have the money to operate what they have now, the additional money is for expansion and improvements. Have you ever been to one of the parks, or even checked their website to see what they have to offer? They are very well maintained, year round, yep even in the dead of winter some of us are out there, walking our dogs and enjoying the trails.

      • oldruss

        Yes, I’ve been to several of the Metro Parks, and yes, they are well maintained. But my point is, why tax us all some more, to expand for the sake of expanding? They are calling it an OPERATING LEVY, meaning the money is supposed to be used to conduct the day to day OPERATIONS of the parks we already have.

        We already pay property taxes to support the schools, to support the municipalities and townships, to support health and human services (welfare), to support mental health, to support the county and city health districts, to support libraries, to support the TB clinic, to support the metro parks, etc., etc. When will the taxation stop?

  • GreatRedeemer

    Seems like the big winners are Elyria to pump money into the neglected Cascade park and areas northwest. Don’t see anything for North Ridgeville, Columbia, Eaton, Grafton areas. Guess that’s socialized costs, those areas just pay and have to drive to other areas.

    • LaGrange resident

      Right. Also why is a membership at Splash Zone (a LC Metro Park facility), half price for Oberlin residents only? That doesn’t make sense if it’s a county-wide facility.

      • golfingirl

        So the students at Oberlin College will bathe more frequently.

      • Oberlin resident

        Because they raised the taxes for Oberlin residents to build it.

    • Tom Kelley

      There are MetroParks in North Ridgeville (Sandy Ridge Reservation), Grafton (Indian Hollow Reservation) and Columbia Township (Coluimbia Reservation.

  • Pat Holbrook

    Hey what about park development by the “mile long” pier. Did the City forget? I got a suggestion for the City Developers. Use the dirt from the “Big Dig” and fill that hole in. Duh

    • Otter

      This is about the Lorain County Metro Parks, not the city of Lorain/Port Authority. Duh.

  • thinkaboutit

    This is just an overview of the entire plan – there is a lot of possibilities that are not here because of time, space and contingencies surrounding possible projects outside of the park’s control. Over the past fifty years the park system has been able to grow into practically every community with a wide variety of opportunities for everything from hiking, canoeing/kayaking, gardening, the arts, nature education, horse back riding and more. The parks add to your home value, the education of school kids and helps conserve and preserve the local environment. They have done this not only with our local money, but been able to draw in large amounts of state and federal funds to support projects. A main part of the plan is to maintain and preserve what already exists but to enhance them with connections and minor upgrades. Yes, in this given plan more emphasis may be given to some areas this time around, but there is a metro park in your neighborhood that was the result of wise spending, careful planning and hard work. The parks are here, take advantage of them – every person in the county can easily get their money’s worth simply by using the parks.

  • Mark B

    Just a lead up to the tax levy coming up on the ballot

  • Joe Flabetz

    Name the largest property owner in Lorain County? Now name the largest government entity that pay’s no property tax? A county park system, that uses county tax dollars to support and maintain city parks ? Who fought and won to have unions NOT represent their workers? Who tried to use eminent domain to take river frontage from property owners along the Vermilion River?
    Yep, The Lorain County Metro Parks. How much is enough ?????

    • thinkaboutit

      Cities are part of the county too. The parks has partnered with local governments like Wellington, Amherst, Lorain and now Elyria to share resources, knowledge and management to make all more efficient and cost less overall for everyone to use.

      • oldruss

        Yeah, the Metro Parks tried to partner with the Amherst School District in a “once in a life-time” deal, to build a rec center, that users would have had to buy memberships for, and pay the taxes to build it too. Fortunately, the voters saw through that scam, and voted the whole thing down.

    • Mark B

      If Unions were involved it would quadruple the costs

      • Pete

        Stupid comment, try competitive price with more quality work.

    • Phil Blank

      I always thought it was the church’s?

  • Bill Love

    if its only going to cost a home owner $.88 why not charge $.25 or $.10 to visit the park

    • golfingirl

      Would cost more to pay someone to collect it.

      Also, they are miles long, you can’t build a fence around them, with an admissions gate.

      I am generally against taxes, but at least with the parks, I can see some tangible results.

  • Bruce Tennant

    I think they are one of the few public entities doing a great job with the money they get. I go to Lakeview and some of the other parks regularly now when I used to avoid them. I’ll dig deep and cough up another 88 cents a month for the results I’m seeing