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Two New Studies Will Gauge the Health of Summit Lake and the Surrounding Neighborhood In Akron

photo of Summit Lake
Summit Lake was once called a 'Million Dollar Playground,' but a century of stormwater runoff and pollution has driven away recreation activity.

Two new studies have been approved to assess the health of Akron’s Summit Lake.

A century ago, Summit Lake -- about 2 miles south of downtown Akron -- was a recreation area that included an amusement park and hosted boaters, swimmers and fishermen. Since then, pollution from industry and stormwater runoff have strongly discouraged recreation.

Dan Rice, CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway, says the new studies funded by the EPA and the Knight Foundation will help officials decide how to restore the lake. But first, hard data needs to replace rumors.

“We hear everything from, 'There’s alligators in the lake.' So there’s a lot of unknown questions out there – a lot of misinformation. The purpose of these studies is to basically clarify: What really is the environmental health of Summit Lake?

The meeting will be Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Summit Lake Community Center.

“We know, currently, that people do boat there. There are people who kayak and canoe and fish. But in order to really enhance and activate this space, we need to have a better understanding [of the] environmental health, if you will:. Give it a checkup of the sediments and the land and the water surrounding Summit Lake.”

The EPA and the Knight Foundation are spending more than $300,000 on the studies.

Rice says a public meeting will help gather input on what residents want to see happen with the lake and surrounding neighborhood.

The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25 at the Summit Lake Community Center. Rice also invites anyone seeking more information to contact the Ohio & Erie Canalway.