A picnic shelter being built at Frohring Meadows in Bainbridge was the center of discussion by Savage Road resident Norm Schultz Jr., Geauga Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell and Geauga Park District Director John Oros. They met together at the Geauga Park District Park last week.
Mr. Schultz, who lives across from the park is questioning the construction of a picnic area, fire pits and restrooms at the site, which he can see from his front yard. The project includes two open picnic shelters, 22-by-22 feet, placed next to each other.
If it has to be built, Mr. Schultz said, he would like to see the new additions at the back of the park off Savage Road in Bainbridge Township.
“I’ve always loved that field,” he said of the land near his boyhood home. “It tears us up that they are putting the picnic pavilions right there. I don’t think it is right. And we still have individual rights and that’s why we have zoning. Why can’t government follow rules like we do,” he said.
Frohring Meadows is a park of the Geauga Park District which does not have to seek zoning or building permits from the township.
Mr. Schultz said the pavilions disrupt the beauty of the natural landscape. “This picnic area in front of our houses isn’t nature. I believe most people would ask, ‘Why are they putting it here?’”
Judge Grendell said he understood residents’ concerns. Though the judge appoints members to the county park board, he said that he can only give them suggestions after that.
Yet the judge was at the meeting with Mr. Oros at the request of Mr. Schultz, Judge Grendell said.
“I recommended moving the bathroom inward and providing some buffering. That is my recommendation. I understand the concerns about the bathroom and they can be blocked with mounding,” Judge Grendell said.
“It is not realistic to move it to the other side of the park,” he said after the meeting, adding “I don’t think it’s offensive, and to put up some trees is reasonable. The nearest house is about 100 yards away.”
Frohring Meadows is the county park with the highest attendance in Geauga, Judge Grendell noted. He added that they are not cutting trees down for the picnic shelters.
The park district has done a nice job of following the intent of the late Paul Frohring who donated his farmland to the park district, Judge Grendell said. “He wanted something natural and an interaction with nature. It was a corn field. Nobody has disturbed the animals or the woods,” he said.
Mr. Oros said they listened to Mr. Schultz’s concerns, but moving the picnic shelters is not an option. “We have to be cognizant of the cost overruns and the burdens to the taxpayers who pay for it,” he said. The project is under contract.
Trees are generally planted in any of the parks when there is a project, “and we could discuss (planting) more.” The park director added that relocating the buildings would increase the cost. “I recognize the concerns but everyone pays for the project. It could cost thousands if not tens of thousands to move it,” he said.
Mr. Oros also noted that the deed signed by Mr. Frohring has no restrictions. The picnic pavilions are architecturally and, aesthetically pleasing, he added.
He noted that a big reason for the additional pavilions is that in 2018 there were 353 reservations for the existing shelter at Frohring Meadows. “This is another reason for adding another picnic shelter,” Mr. Oros said.
“We are doing what’s best for all the residents of Geauga County and particularly Bainbridge Township,” he added. “And we picked that location for the picnic shelters because it provides a really good view of the meadow habitat and the wetland.”
He also noted that another Geauga Park District park in Bainbridge, the new Holbrook Hollows off Country Lane, has become popular with residents. The lodge is being reserved and people are walking there and riding their horses. “It’s a great new park,” he said.
Mr. Schultz said he has talked with a Frohring relative who is not happy with the plan for the picnic shelters. She has said she would sign a petition opposing it, according to Mr. Schultz.
There were discussions about planting pine trees. “It would destroy the integrity of the field. It’s an eyesore for me.” With the fire pits, they are going to be there until 11 at night, he said of park-goers.
“We all need to get along and cooperate for future generations,” Mr. Schultz said. “I know he would not have wanted this,” he said of Paul Frohring. “He talked of uninterrupted green space. I know that’s why he gave it (the land) it to the park.
He said he was happy Judge Grendell agreed to the meeting at the site. “He even asked why the picnic pavilions are needed. No one has given a reason why it has to be there,” Mr. Schultz said. “I’m doing everything I can to let people know what is going on.”
Mr. Schultz said the project for the picnic shelter would change the serene, tranquil environment. He asked if the district did an impact study.
The project does not fall in line with the park district’s mission to preserve, protect and conserve land, he added. Placement of the buildings is disrespectful to Mr. Frohring, Mr. Schultz said.