Containing one of the Geauga Park District’s oldest lodges, the Swine Creek Reservation is due for a facelift, and after months of master planning, the 614 acre park is on its way to getting just that with construction slated for 2021.

Director of Planning and Operations Matt McCue and park planner Annie Lynch presented the Swine Creek Reservation Improvements to the Geauga Park District Board of Commissioners last week, highlighting the replacement of the Swine Creek Lodge, better connectivity of nearby trails and the addition of native plantings among others.

Due to structural, foundation and roofing issues, Ms. Lynch said during the June 16 meeting, district officials advised that replacement of the lodge was necessary. She added that there is a lack of flow from front to back and vice versa in the park and that accessibility could be improved upon.

Plans Ms. Lynch presented included a proposed new lodge to “mimic the bubbles and the boiling process” of the park district’s popular Saps-a-Risin’ program in late-winter and early-spring. She said the building would also include a large window to provide viewing of a sensitive bird habitat located behind the lodge, a front gathering space with room for a fire pit and picnic tables and a side pergola.

She added that the plans call for connecting an existing trail to the north of the lodge off the nearby bridge over the pond. She said the district also plans to add another fishing platform and a loop trail around the pond.

Mr. McCue said the park district will implement extra native plantings around the parking lot.

“Pulling through some of the concepts we’ve done at all of our newer shelters, we’re really looking at – whether it’s the rain gardens [or] biofiltration – how we’re really dealing with stormwater management from the buildings and the impervious areas up around the buildings, such as the patio spaces,” he said.

“The other thing, too, is that concept of opening things up,” he added. “If you’re out at a park, we want to have that open feeling to our shelters where you can really flow out into the exterior space.” The open windows for viewing the bird habitat are intended to help with this, along with the construction of large barn doors, he added. “Concept-wise, we think it fits really well with the park and with some of the program elements with creating that gathering space and some of those things around our shelters that we see from public use that seem popular.”

Later this year, Mr. McCue said, the park district plans to bring in design professionals to begin construction drawings of the plans.

Also related to park improvements, the park board awarded the bid for design build services of the Beaver Creek restoration project to Biohabitats as the lowest and best proposal of four firms in the amount of $838,340.

Beaver Creek is located in the park district’s Bass Lake Preserve in Munson Township. The project includes the restoration of floodplain connectivity, the enhancement of marsh and swamp forest, the creation of channel pond wetlands for increased amphibian and reptile habitat and the management of invasive plants, according to the project’s specifications.

Executive Director John Oros said the park district has worked with Biohabitats in previous years, noting the firm’s stream restoration on Silver Creek at the West Woods in Russell Township.

“They are definitely a well-respected firm in their field for stream restoration [and] wetland restoration,” he said. “They have a lot of experience restoring stream ecosystems.”

Sam Cottrill started reporting for the Times in February 2019 and covers Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville and Chagrin, Kenston, Solon and West Geauga schools. She graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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