The Portage Park District and its partners recently completed its newest addition to the countywide park system. Located north of Howe Road in the City of Kent and Brimfield Township, the 215-acre property features rolling hills, old fields, mature woods, over ½ mile of Plum Creek, and over 50 acres of high quality sphagnum peat bog, a very rare ecosystem in Ohio. The land is adjacent to the Tom S. Cooperrider Kent Bog State Nature Preserve.
Formerly owned by the Carter Jones Lumber Company, the acquisition was made possible thanks to a partnership with the company and the Park District, the nonprofit Ohio Valley Conservation Coalition (OVCC) and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. Funding comes from the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund and the Ohio EPA’s Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP) which funds projects that protect and improve water quality.
“Carter Lumber has hundreds of employees that live and work in Portage County. We are pleased to know that this land will be conserved and developed into a park for so many people to enjoy this beautiful area in the county that our company calls home,” said Charles R. Price, Vice-President Construction/Development.
Christine Craycroft, Executive Director of the Park District, noted that the acquisition was funded entirely with grants and donations. “The permanent protection of an important natural area in a region under high development pressure not only helps to buffer the nature preserve, it also protects rare species, water quality and wildlife habitat. Meanwhile, it has tremendous potential for healthy recreation and nature education.
We’re very grateful to Carter Jones, their real estate broker NAI Cummins and our other partners for their contributions in creating this natural legacy for current and future generations,” she said.
“A project of this scope can be complex and often requires multiple public and private partners and funding sources,” said Joel Wood, Chairman of the OVCC. “We are proud that our organization could play a role in conserving this important natural resource.”
Neal Hess, the broker and owner of Conservation Realty Group, who represented the Park District on the transaction added, “With its rare ecologies, aesthetic beauty and proximity to the City of Kent, I have no doubt that this property will be enjoyed and treasured by countless generations. I want to thank all of the parties involved, as well as the administrators at the State of Ohio who oversee the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund and the Ohio EPA WRRSP program, for their vision, patience and persistence in working to make this transaction a huge success.”
The property won’t be ready for daily use by the public for a couple of years according to Craycroft. Initial work will center on eco-management and developing a master plan to identify appropriate locations for low-impact facilities and trails. Possible uses including hiking, biking, picnicking and simply enjoying nature.
“It’s exciting to think about the creative possibilities for park design, considering the landscape and its location,” said Craycroft. “We’re looking forward to engaging the public along the way as we move forward with the planning process.”
The Portage Park District’s mission is to conserve Portage County’s natural heritage and provide opportunities for its appreciation and enjoyment. For more information, visit Portage Park District or call (330) 297-7728.