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Richfield trustees continue discussion of Crowell Hilaka

5/29/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Jeff Gorman

A joint park district between Richfield Township and Richfield Village moved a step closer to fruition during a special Richfield Board of Trustees meeting May 22.

The trustees introduced a resolution to join the park district, which would investigate the possibility of purchasing Crowell Hilaka, a 336-acre former Girl Scout camp located between Broadview Road and state Route 303, and how to fund the purchase.

“If I had $4 million, I’d buy it,” Trustee Bob Luther remarked.

Richfield Village Council has introduced similar legislation, and both governments could pass the resolutions in the first week of June.

The governments have been talking with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC) and the Friends of Crowell Hilaka, whose president, Corey Ringle, attended the meeting. According to the Friends of Crowell Hilaka website, the group is currently working with the WRLC to create partnerships, raise awareness and take pledges for preservation of the property, once the estate of inventor Jim Kirby. This property includes miles of trails, historical structures and scenery, and the vision of the Friends of Crowell Hilaka is to preserve this land and open it to the public as a recreational and educational destination, according to the website.

Luther said he would like to see the land developed.

“We have 10,000 acres in the township, and 3,000 is park land already,” he said. “I’m looking to get some of the tax base back. But first, someone has to buy it.”

He noted that while Crowell Hilaka has hosted as many as 21 Girl Scout camps in the past, that number has dwindled to three.

Ringle said the WRLC has submitted the highest bid so far for the property. It would preserve the property with the intention of it going to an “end user,” she explained.

Trustee Jeff Shupe said the township has a lot of other financial priorities, including a new administration building and upcoming police and fire contracts.

“Your heartstrings get pulled because it’s been here for 1,000 years, but we’re not in the real estate business,” he said.

Ringle said the cost of purchasing the property could be reduced through a Clean Ohio grant.

“Funding is out there that could give us a good discount,” she said.

Trustee Janet Jankura said the residents of Richfield would ultimately decide on whether the joint recreation district would purchase the property.

“When we approve something like this resolution, we are only committing to forming the board,” she said.

The trustees also approved a bid from Empire Paving to repair the parking lot at Rising Valley Park.

Road Foreman Jerry Schall said that “winter has taken its toll” on the parking lot.

Luther added the problem of garbage trucks coming into the lot has been solved through smaller trash containers and “no trucks” signs.

Park Administrator Chris Eastwood said he caught a concrete truck going through the park, but the driver told him that Google Maps sent him there.

“They think that’s a road,” Eastwood said. “He was apologetic. I told him to spread the word.”

The cost of the work is $31,150 and will come from the Hershel Hunt Capital Improvement Fund.

Trustees agreed to have an ordinance drafted that would protect the parking lot with a ban on through traffic and a 10 mph speed limit.

Also during the meeting:

  • Jankura revived last year’s discussion of a dog park, and she suggested the township test the idea with a special day for dogs that would include a “pop-up” dog park.
  • Trustees agreed to renew their insurance policies for another year. Wichert Insurance will cover the township’s property, equipment, vehicle and public liability insurance for $16,149.
  • Trustees approved the hiring of Court Reporters Inc. to transcribe a six-hour Board of Zoning Appeals hearing in connection with a lawsuit filed against the township by Club Motor Plex. The cost is approximately $1,800, and the trustees approved the expense of no more than $3,000.
    “Other communities have done this, and the cost was in the $1,500 to $2,000 range,” Jankura said.
  • Trustees approved the expense of $25,500 to Cardinal Asphalt for repairs to Hawkins Road. This replaces the previous plan to repair the lower half of the road this year.
    “We’re going to apply for a grant to fix the whole thing,” Luther said.
  • Trustees welcomed new Township Administrator Mindy Remec, who has taken over for the retired Linda Bowmer.
    “She’s been working with us for almost two weeks, and we’re delighted that she’s with us,” Jankura said.

The next meeting of the Richfield trustees is scheduled for June 5 at 10 a.m. at the township offices, located behind the fire station on West Streetsboro Road.

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