An overhaul of the Community Park in Solon is on the horizon, with city officials moving forward with securing a master plan for the area.
Last week, the City Council Safety and Public Properties Committee approved going out for a request for proposals to develop a master plan for the park, located at 6679 SOM Center Road. City Council added its approval Monday
“It’s become apparent over time and with the number of potential projects that we would best be served by having some expertise in this regard,” said Recreation Director Rich Parker, addressing the need for a master plan.
The plan will serve as a guiding document for future park system infrastructure improvements, Mr. Parker said. It would include both an evaluation of the existing arrangement of space as currently programmed as well as possible upgrades to optimize the park for various uses and needs of the community.
“The key is to develop a park that will serve generations to come.”
Mr. Parker said the park has been used by generations for decades. It includes baseball fields and a playground, as well as tennis courts, among other amenities. It is home to events such as the July 4 fireworks display, Home Days, Fall Festival and more.
There also have been discussions of the park being home to an amphitheater and community garden.
“There’s all the parts and pieces,” Mr. Parker said. “Ultimately, we thought the best strategy is a well thought-out plan to guide us in doing this work.”
There is no price tag yet for the work and responses from the request for proposals will determine if the plan can be funded this year or needs to be included in the budget for 2022, officials said.
“We would like to move this project along as quickly as possible,” Mr. Parker said.
The idea is to lay out the park as efficiently as possible, he added.
Mr. Parker told the committee that the park is familiar to just about every Solon resident and home to many activities.
“City of Solon residents and visitors alike value the importance of parks and recreational opportunities as an essential public service,” he said. “It is in need of updated maintenance and improvement of facilities,” he said.
Councilman William I. Russo said he is exceptionally excited to see this before the committee.
“The park has served the community for multiple decades,” Mr. Russo said. “It’s old and tired and needs to be updated.”
But Mr. Russo said those updates need to be done in an organized, planned fashion.
He also credited the park’s grounds crews for a “yeoman’s job” through the years, as well as Mr. Parker’s team at the Recreation Department.
“It’s a shame that with a facility of the city as heavily utilized as this, we have not been able to get the money budgeted to get it done,” Mr. Russo said. The park needs to be elevated to something the community deserves, he added.
Mr. Russo also said it is important that nothing is done at the park until a master plan is presented to council and a survey is done of residents to maximize efficiency.
“This is a long overdue item we have not addressed,” Councilman Robert N. Pelunis said. “We have a master plan for planning and need one for this, so it is done properly.”
Mr. Pelunis said whoever is selected to perform the work should conduct a survey representing opinions of the entire community. He suggested making a written survey available at the Solon Community Center to encourage more responses.
Councilman Jeremy A. Zelwin agreed, adding that he has received calls from residents regarding the general layout of the fields.
Having a plan such as this will help answer residents’ questions and address their concerns, Mr. Zelwin said.
He also said he “double echoes” the need for an updated playground.
“It’s sad residents from Solon go to Orange, Beachwood and Twinsburg because they have a nicer playground system than Solon,” Mr. Zelwin said.
Mr. Russo said the sooner the work can be done the better, but the community needs to be patient.
“This won’t happen overnight but it’s coming,” he said. “The needs and concerns of this community will be met, but we need to have the process take its course.”