Thomas Heritage Park parking lot hits snag

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor Published:

A parking lot for Streetsboro's newest city park has been delayed by City Council.

According to Parks & Recreation Director Greg Mytinger, the lot is needed because the unfinished gravel drive into the 116-acre Route 303 property is inadequate for more than two or three vehicles.

"The crushed asphalt was used down there as more of an access road so we could get to [the land]," he said in a Jan. 27 interview.

Installing the parking lot would cost an estimated $100,000 and accommodate about 40 cars. The lot could be smaller, depending on site conditions, added Mytinger.

Several Council members indicated during at Jan. 13 meeting they'd prefer to spend the money on upgrading backstops at City Park's baseball fields.

The parking lot was in the city's temporary 2014 budget, but now several City Council members aren't so sure they want to follow through on the plan to install the parking lot.

City Council member Tim Claypoole said balls can get through at least some of the backstops at City Park, presenting a danger to fans.

Mytinger said each backstop costs $22,000 to replace, and the fields need to be raised to improve drainage. Replacing backstops and raising the ground at two fields would cost about $100,000, he added.

Council member Jeff Allen said he has several problems with investing money at Thomas Heritage Park. First, he said the parking lot isn't in the city's parks master plan which was developed in 2007.

Mytinger pointed out that the plan was developed before the city settled a zoning lawsuit with the Steffner family, buying the 116-acre property for $4.6 million in the process.

Allen also said he believes the Streetsboro Parks & Recreation Department's funds are spread "too thin."

"I think … there's not enough money to do your job properly," he told Mytinger Jan. 13.

Because Thomas Heritage Park isn't in the Parks Master Plan, Allen also said he'd like voters to have more say in how the land is used.

Mayor Glenn Broska said additional input isn't necessary because residents have shared their sentiments in a survey as part of the update to the city's overall master plan.

"Over 80 percent of the people in the city said they want us to expand the parks system," he said.

Mytinger said there's been a call for a place for trails, fishing and other passive recreation.

"There's a large majority of people who want that to be a park and have amenities similar to Sunny Lake in Aurora," he said Jan. 27.

Carmen Laudato, a member of the Parks, Recreation & Conservation Advisory Committee, said she would like to see the park continue to develop.

"I would be in favor of some measure to amend the [parks] master plan to include Thomas Heritage Park," she told Council.

Claypoole and Council member Steve Michniak said they believe City Park attracts more patrons than Thomas Heritage Park, making it a better spot for investment.

"I just don't think there's a big outcry from people that they've got to have a place to walk their dogs after work," said Michniak.

Laudato suggested purchasing strips that can count the number of cars entering an area, which would help quantify usage of the parks.

Resident Brett McClafferty suggested selling the Thomas Heritage Park land, adding the city is "hemorrhaging money" to pay for the land.

Broska said he doesn't support that idea.

"I don't know what purpose it would serve to sell that land; it's valued at $500,000," he said. "To sell that land at a loss and continue paying for it for 20 years -- I don't think the city would look kindly on that."

The Parks, Recreation & Conservation Committee is planning to review the parks master plan. Its next meeting is at 6 p.m. Feb. 4 at City Hall.

Mytinger said he is planning to bring estimates to upgrade City Park to Council's Feb. 24 Finance Committee meeting. The finance committee meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

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