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Government & Politics

Geauga Parks Activist Group Is Concerned About the Future of the County's Parks

photo of Kathy Hanratty
Kathy Hanratty, President of Protect Geauga Parks, says the district needs to be more transparent and better evaulate new programs and how much they'll cost.

A Geauga County activist group says the county’s public lands need to be better-managed.

Protect Geauga Parks was formed three years ago as a response to what members viewed as a park board that is not fulfilling its mission. Now, they say Probate Court Judge Timothy Grendell – and the three park commissioners he appoints – won’t allow public comment at meetings.

On Saturday, Protect Geauga Parks held a meeting to get public feedback. Vice-President Ed Buckles from Troy Township said recent moves to add a rock-climbing wall and zip-lines need to be explored further before being implemented.

“Is this going to be in an area where there’s horseback riders? Is this going to be in an area where there’s typically migratory fowl breeding? We don’t know – nobody’s done an environmental study, or shared with us an environmental study.”

Buckles and his group have also been critical of a plan to allow snowmobiles after nightfall in Observatory Park in Montville, one of just 18 parks in the country recognized as being free from light pollution and optimal for astronomy.

Buckles added that one of the issues they have with the Geauga County Park District is the high rate of turnover among park commissioners. There have been 11 in the past six years, versus 12 in the half-century before that. He says consistency on the park board is what helped the county safeguard its watershed for many years.

“The headwaters of the three major rivers of Northeastern Ohio – the Cuyahoga, the Grand and the Chagrin – all spring from parks here in Geauga County. So basically everybody in Northeastern Ohio – everybody who gets water from Lake Erie, goes into Lake Erie – lives downstream from Geauga County.”

Judge Grendell and the commissioners did not respond to a call for comment.