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Fairlawn celebrating 40th anniversary of Croghan Park

7/10/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Croghan Park’s renovations include a new steel bridge, shown below right, and a rain garden located north and west of the bridge, shown above. The park will be rededicated July 19.
Photos: Maria Lindsay
FAIRLAWN — Fairlawn will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Croghan Park with a rededication ceremony and a War of 1812 Encampment July 19.

The rededication ceremony will not only honor the 40th anniversary of Croghan Park, located at 99 N. Miller Road, said Mayor William Roth, but it also will serve as the official unveiling of a number of upgrades done at the park over the past year.

“We’re rededicating the park after 40 years of service and we did some major upgrades to the park this year,” he said. “It was important for us to upgrade the park. We’re adding more greenery to it. We’re adding more trees and shrubs and things like that. The other thing we’ve done is to make the walking paths ADA [American with Disabilities Act] compliant. This project has been a win-win for everybody.”

Deputy Service Director Ernie Staten said the park’s renovations have included a reworking of “all of the asphalt paving and the sidewalks,” along with a brand new steel bridge.

“The bridge was a combination of a design by an engineer here in the city of Fairlawn named Bob Hochevar and myself, and there were obviously approvals by City Council, the mayor and the Parks Board, and [Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Beisecker] in particular,” he said. “The previous bridge was a concrete bridge that was an arch. It was not ADA accessible and there were other issues, plus we wanted to build a rain garden. So, it was time to put this new bridge in.”

The new bridge is wider and “a little flatter” than the former bridge, Staten noted.

“I think it has a nice steel design along the outside,” he said. “It has a combination of upright and angled pieces of iron. It’s painted green and beige with a teak floor.”

Another notable feature of the renovated park is the new rain garden, which was designed by Fairlawn resident Gary Bisca and Staten, who said the garden is located “north and west” of the bridge.

“The bridge kind of goes over the very edge of it,” he stated. “The idea behind the rain garden is that it’s an area that you can flood and the plants will sustain — and at the same time, it can dry out and the plants will sustain. It’s a pretty delicate system.”

Other upgrades to Croghan Park, Staten noted, included improvements to the shelter house and the basketball and tennis courts, along with a better surface being installed on the playground and the addition of new benches.

“The total cost for the bridge and the rain garden was $178,000. The funds came from the capital improvement fund the city has,” he said. “This project started at the end of July last year, and we’re pretty happy with how the process has gone. We made it before the [July 19] event.”

According to Staten, the rededication ceremony will be the first opportunity for the community to really enjoy the renovated version of the park.

“People are able to see what we’ve done with the park now, but they aren’t able to get onto the bridge or into the rain garden,” he said. “We still have it fenced off to allow the grass to take hold.”

The official unveiling of the newly renovated Croghan Park will occur during the rededication ceremony July 19. Beisecker said the public is invited to the festivities, which will include re-enactment participants, period vendors (sutlers) and food trucks.

The day will begin with the rededication ceremony at 10 a.m., continue with period activities and demonstrations, and culminate with a dinner with the re-enactment participants and music, she noted.

“Something will be happening every half an hour,” she said. “It will just be a good day for the community to come out and see the park and see an encampment right here in Fairlawn.”

The William Wetmore Chapter Daughters of 1812 are teaming up with the city for the 1812 Living History Encampment at the park, which will run from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. There will be activities all day, including the firing of an authentic 1812 cannon and musket demonstrations. There will be soldier schools for children, where they can learn how to march in a militia, as well as a scavenger hunt with 1812 prizes. An actor portraying General Elijah Wadsworth will speak at 12:30 p.m. and another playing Jonah Turner, the founder of Copley, will be on hand for a Liberty Tree dedication in the afternoon.

The rededication ceremony also will include one of the original shovels from Croghan Park’s dedication 40 years ago. Beisecker said the item was recently discovered by former Fairlawn Council President Jim Swartz.

“He just happened to find it when he was doing some cleaning,” she said. “When they first dedicated the park, they all took a shovel and dug for a picture. He still had his with the inscription in it. It is a ceremonial shovel.”

In addition, she noted, the rededication ceremony will see a return of a monument noting the significance of Col. George Croghan in the Fairlawn area. Beisecker said the removal of that marker helped to set the events slated to take place July 19 in motion.

“When Ernie started the renovation, they removed the monument that indicates that Col. Croghan went through this area in 1812,” she said. “We got several phone calls asking why the monument had been removed and that kind of snowballed into this event.”

Admission to the rededication ceremony and War of 1812 encampment is free of charge, and free shuttle buses will be provided from the Summit Mall parking lot to the park.

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