RUSSELL — In the near future, visitors to the Modroo Park in Russell will be walking in the area and enjoying nature in what was once a hayfield.
Joe Leslie, director of land acquisition for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, gave a presentation July 8 on the plans for the Modroo parkland to the Russell Township Park District commissioners.
A parking lot for six cars is part of the plan, said Dennis Suhay, a park district board commissioner. The parking area would be a gravel area located off Hemlock Road, across from Riddle Road. The park district would like to see space for eight or 10 cars, Mr. Suhay said, but that will be up to the land conservancy. The conservancy holds a conservation easement on the 53 acres.
The Geauga Park District will be mowing a walking trail on the 53.28 acres. The trail will be almost a mile and there will be a shorter loop as well of about three tenths of a mile.
The Geauga Park District has a 15-year lease agreement to operate and care for Russell Township Park District’s 300 acres of land.
The Modroo trail will be going in soon, hopefully by the end of the summer, officials said, but the ground remains very wet due to frequent rain.
There are plans by the land conservancy to reforest one section of the parkland, Mr. Suhay said, adding that the parking lot area is to start soon.
Members of the park board including Donna Weiss Carson and Michael Gavin approved the plans presented by Mr. Leslie.
Russell Township Trustee Jim Mueller said trustees are “delighted the Modroo property was saved and is being used.” The trails at the parkland will offer an opportunity for outdoor activity including walking dogs and doing some bird watching, he noted.
Mr. Leslie said local landscape architect Rob Morgan created the plan for the park. The entrance will be off Hemlock Road and they will be working with Geauga County Engineer on the ditch crossing for the driveway to the parking lot which will have space for the six cars.
The former hayfield has to be mowed for the trail. There are probably many ruts and they won’t know until it starts on what is needed. There are probably many uneven areas, Mr. Leslie said. Some rolling of the trail may have to be done to make it usable.
“Geauga Park District will mow the trail and we will work with them to determine what is needed,” he said.
The project for the parking area will start with the county facilitating the culvert pipe at the roadway and then the trails will be cleared. “The goal is to have it done before the snow flies,” Mr. Leslie said.
The land conservancy has committed up to $50,000 on the improvements including the parking lot area, he said.
Some benches will be put in to recognize the donors who enabled the project to move forward, Mr. Leslie noted. “When we reached out for help, many committed to donations.”
Once zoned for 3-acre residential lots, the farmland was rezoned by the township to passive park use.
There are several areas in the township zoned for passive parks, including the Geauga Park District’s West Woods in the township. Russell Park District purchased the Modroo property in 2016.
According to the plans for the Modroo parkland, trees will be planted in some areas and native vegetation will be restored along with the public access.
It is important to allow public access as long as it is kept natural, according to those working with the park. Russell park district last year purchased 8 acres behind the Modroo farmhouse, adjacent to the 53 acres. The purchase was geared to prevent the farmhouse property from being subdivided for homes.
The historic 1873 Modroo farmhouse has been sold by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.