Western Reserve Land Conservancy is seeking to raise funds through donations for the preservation of the Modroo farm property for a park in Russell Township.
Russell Park District committed $1.2 million on Sept. 19 to buy 52 acres of farmland on Hemlock Road. Those funds had been set aside over the past several years from a levy specifically designated for buying land for parks in the township.
The price for the Modroo land is $1.55 million and the land conservancy has committed to raising the rest of the money for the purchase. The deadline is Oct. 31.
The conservancy has raised nearly $400,000 and another $100,000 was needed as of last week.
In a letter, the land conservancy states that for more than 20 years, both the Russell Park District and the land conservancy have sought to preserve the historic Modroo Farm.
“Over the past few months, we have had a 53-acre portion of the property under contract, but our agreement expires soon. The land conservancy has been able to secure an extension on our purchase agreement and now has until Oct. 31to complete our fundraising.”
The conservancy states it is critical that it act by the end of October. “If we can raise enough funding by then, we will establish a new public preserve that will enhance and benefit our community, now and forever,” the letter states.
“All of us cherish this area of the Chagrin Valley because of scenic natural areas such as Modroo Farm. Please join us in protecting this beloved asset. Imagine our community without Russell Uplands Preserve, without South Russell Community Park, without Frohring Meadows, without Whitesburg Park, without West Woods. It would be a vastly different place, a lesser place. Today is our chance to add this iconic property to our community’s collection of precious places."
An anonymous donor recently made a $250,000 challenge grant to the project, conservancy representatives said.
Park Commissioner Charlie Butters said this week that it looks like the conservancy is successfully raising the funds needed in addition to what the park commission is contributing.
The conservancy has committed to putting in a trail on the property along with a parking area, he noted.
The Russell Park District will be managing the property with the goal of not letting it go fallow or allowing scrub vegetation to overrun the area, according to Mr. Butters.
Russell resident Barbara Berkeley, who has supported the preservation of Modroo, said, “I have been incredibly impressed by the hard work and dedication the conservancy has devoted to this project and to the others they have concluded successfully.”
Donations on any level will be greatly appreciated, she said.
“Donations need not come from local residents. If you know anyone with a philanthropic spirit who is interested in land conservation,” Dr. Berkeley said.
Another local supporter of the purchase, Shelley Chernin, said the conservancy’s interest is notable. “It’s an indication that the Western Reserve Land Conservancy thinks the deal will go through.”
Park commissioners are expected to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Geauga Park District’s West Woods Nature Center in the township.
Donations can be made by visiting www.wrlandconservancy.org and clicking the “Help these projects” tab.