Though it was a bit nippy outside, the group gathered last Saturday at Frohring Meadows was enthusiastic as the Geauga Park District representatives prepared to cut the ribbon on the newest addition at the park in Bainbridge.
That addition is the two new picnic shelters completed recently.
Geauga Park District Executive Director John Oros said the new shelters should get lots of use since Frohring Meadows is by far the most visited park in the park district. “Big numbers come through this park,” he said.
Attending the event were Bainbridge Trustees Lorrie Benza and Kristina O’Brien. Geauga County Probate and Juvenile courts were represented by Magistrate Abbie King and Constable John Ralph.
Mr. Oros also introduced Rich Washington, senior landscape architect with CT Consultants, and Bob Zerbe with Zerbe Construction. Matt McCue, director of planning and operations, represented the Geauga Park District staff.
Bainbridge residents Pat and Debbie Fitzmaurice and their children were among the visitors. They visit the park regularly, they said, and enjoy walking the 2.7 miles of trails that wind through the meadows, around wetlands and through the woods.
Mr. Oros, in reviewing the park’s history, said in 1995, Paul Frohring, a pioneer in the development of nutritional and medical supplements and a local conservationist, donated 176 acres to the Geauga Park District. The acreage surrounded his farm house on Chagrin Road.
The farmland was used for growing and harvesting soybeans, oats, corn and wheat, Mr. Oros said. In 1998, Geauga Park District entered into a 50-year lease with the Village of Chagrin Falls for 122 acres adjacent to the Frohring property to the north to help connect the community to the park, he said.
Frohring Meadows was opened to the public in 2007, and the land encompasses 298 acres of public land, Mr. Oros said. When the Frohring family gifted the property to the Geauga Park District, they expressed a desire to see a large tract of the family farm being preserved as a grassland habitat, he noted.
“The donors’ wishes were satisfied when the park district established a prairie habitat beginning in 2005,” Mr. Oros said. It was seeded with native plants, including cone flowers, sunflowers and blazing stars. “It is turning out very nice,” he said. It is being propagated through a burn program, he added.
They also created a wet meadow where all sorts of animals and birds thrive, including the Virginia rail and the sora rail and bobolinks.
He invited everyone to come to hike and to enjoy breakfast or lunch with the family at the new picnic shelters.
He also talked about “Resolve,” as it relates to the park, including resolving matters and sticking to a hard work ethic. He noted they dealt with a lot of rain when the project started, and weeds in the prairie that caused problems. “We had to stick with it,” he said and the park was completed on time.
He thanked Bainbridge Township Trustees for their support and help, the Geauga Park District board of commissioners, Mr. McCue, who was the park district’s project manager, and Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Courts Judge Timothy Grendell.
Everyone at the event was treated to coffee and donuts from the Nauvoo Family Market in Middlefield.
Mr. Oros was scheduled to give a presentation and update on the park district’s accomplishments in the last 20 years and its goals at 7 p.m. today (Thursday) at the Orchard Hills Park lodge in Chester Township.
Commenting on the park district’s vision for the next three to five years, he said Welton Gorge is opening in Burton Township, east of the Geauga County Fairgrounds. It should be open by Jan. 1, 2021. It features a spectacular gorge and stone outcroppings, he said. It is referred to as the Grand Canyon of Geauga County.
The late Bob McCullough, longtime park board member and volunteer, was instrumental in acquiring the property while he was still a park board member, Mr. Oros said.
In other areas, the park district construction crew has been working on structures and fixing up trails and bridges in the older parks. Big Creek Park in Chardon is getting a new lodge, he said.
“We are working on new parks and maintaining the integrity of the older parks, Mr. Oros noted. The oldest are Big Creek and the Woodin Road Park in Chardon Township.
The vital role of the park district is protecting natural areas and plants and animals, he said. He noted there are brook trout at the West Woods in Russell and many different types of warblers frequenting the mature parks. “Things are going very well. We provide great parks, with 25 now, and over 10,600 acres to preserve nature.”