ASHTABULA COUNTY – New signs decorate the Ashtabula County roadways, all with the goal of making the public more aware of the Ashtabula County Metroparks and the Western Reserve Greenway Trail.
Dozens of brown and yellow signs have been put up by the Ashtabula County Metroparks – and more are on the way, Executive Director Larry Frimerman said.
“The signs are at major road crossings and they’re directional signs that will direct people hopefully to the most direct way of getting to different parks and the Greenway,” Frimerman said. “It’s part of providing public awareness to the fact that there are parks nearby.”
Besides the signs on the roadways, Frimerman said new informational signs have gone up on the Greenway Trail itself. “Stop Ahead” signs also have been ordered for the Greenway Trail, letting bikers, walkers and other users of the trail know that a roadway or intersection is up ahead.
“That’s something we think could save a life,” Frimerman said. “It not only will protect the lives of cyclists, but also people who are driving by on the roadway.”
The signs aren’t the only recent updates to the metroparks. The organization also continues to increase access to its parks.
While essentially all of the parks are open for rustic viewing, several of them are open for hiking, fishing, hunting and exploration, Frimerman said. The newest park open for this type of exploration is Camp Peet in Conneaut.
“We’re partnering with the Trillium Center on some programming at Camp Peet and at a few other locations that’ll provide some additional educational opportunities for folks,” Frimerman said.
Frimerman said the metroparks also is partnering with the Ohio Wetlands Association, the Sam Wharram Nature Club and the Ashtabula County District Library on different programs.
In other improvements, a walking trail also has been recently added to Lampson Reservoir in Jefferson.
“With the help of a Boy Scout troop from Rock Creek, we have a new trail that is cut and cleared at Lampson Reservoir Metropark,” Frimerman said. “It’s about a mile-and-a-half loop.”
Frimerman said the trail is primitive, and some improvements are still needed, but it is open for walkers – there’s just a place or two where a walker will have to cross a small stream area. The metroparks is working on getting bids for a project to help walkers traverse that area with a crossing by this summer.
Lampson Reservoir is a popular spot for fishing and bird watching, and Frimerman noted that a bald eagle nests nearby and can be occasionally seen at the reservoir.
“It’s pretty cool to see,” Frimerman said. “Not every place in Ohio can you see bald eagles.”
A walking and horse-back riding trail is also being worked on at Hatches Corners in Conneaut.
“At Hatches Corners, we have had the great pleasure of having a Lake Erie College intern, Dominic Trader, working with his professor and myself to identify wildlife that’s there, creating a brochure and a field guide to wildlife at Hatches Corners,” Frimerman said.
While he’s doing that, he’s been marking and flagging a trail, Frimerman said. The large trail that he’s marked will be usable for horses, Frimerman said. While part of Lampson Reservoir has been used for horses, it’s not an official horse trail. The over 2.5-mile loop at Hatches Corner will be an official horse trail and multi-use trail, he said.
“The plan is to cut that trail through this spring and summer, so it’ll be usable by summer,” he said.
Parking lots have recently been added or expanded to at Lampson Reservoir, Hatches Corners and Blakeslee, also known as the Friends of Conneaut Creek Park.
On more of the business side of things, Frimerman said the metroparks board has updated its bylaws and rules and regulations – an important task, since now they will be able to hire a security firm to secure both the Greenway Trail and the parks. The board also has cleaning contracts for all of the parks, and a portable bathroom is on the Greenway Trail and at Camp Peet, with more permanent installations being added as the metroparks can afford them.
Frimerman said these projects are all part of their commitment to opening up the parks and keeping the promises made to the voters when they passed the metroparks levy a couple of years ago.
“The public wants safe, clean, accessible and open parks,” Frimerman said. “We made a promise that we were going to get parks open, and get them accessible and usable for the public.”
The levy has been essential to the improvements, Frimerman said. While the levy does not provide enough dollars to do all of the projects on its own, the metroparks board is able to leverage those dollars to get grants and other funding, Frimerman said.
“A lot of what we are going to be doing project wise, and any land that we’re acquiring, is all through leverage funds, some state and federal sources like the Clean Ohio Fund,” Frimerman said. “We’re able to do this because of the levy and because of the continued and future generosity of local foundations and supporters.”
Photo by Stefanie Wessell
Dozens of brown and yellow signs have been put up by the Ashtabula County Metroparks – and more are on the way, Director Larry Frimerman said.