The Cuyahoga Valley National Park held a ceremonial ground breaking today for the its new visitor center. They say the National Park Service is watching this project as a potential model nationwide.
Like most national parks in the U.S., the Cuyahoga Valley has millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs. So park Superintendent Craig Kenkel says they’re lucky that the non-profit Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park stepped in to raise $6 million for this visitor center.
“A lot of parks have friends groups. Not many friends groups have the capacity to do fundraising for a major project like this and then to lead the design and construction of that project,” Kenkel said.
The head of the Conservancy, Deb Yandala, says the center will be built in a former company store across the street from Boston Mills ski resort.
“This is one of the more interesting buildings in the Cuyahoga Valley. And you can see the look of the storefront when you look at the building. We think preserving our past is just as important as preparing for the future,” Yandala said.
But it won’t be easy. The 110-year-old structure was built on poor soil and has been moving. Architect Joseph Matava says it needs a new foundation.
“Originally we had planned on picking up the building and moving it out of the footprint of the existing building and redoing the foundation. But now the discussions are: Can we just elevate the building and work underneath it?” Matava said.
The target opening date is spring of 2019.