Metroparks master plan

Photo by Kevin Kelley

Trails, like this one near the Rocky River Nature Center in North Olmsted, are a big component of the Metroparks master plan updates for its West Side reservations. The park district hopes to add additional trails and improve access to neighboring communities.

WESTSHORE — Moving the south entrance to the Huntington Reservation away from the Lake Erie Science & Nature Center is one of a series of changes the Cleveland Metroparks has outlined in its draft, long-term master plan for the park district.

Other proposals for West Side parks include:

Replacing the restroom and refreshment buildings at the beach section of Huntington Reservation

Adding a boardwalk or trail at Bradley Woods Reservation to connect the Codrington Shelterhouse Picnic Area to the Bradley Road entrance.

Removing ballfields and pavement in various locations in the Rocky River Reservation.

Better public access is a major objective in the master plans for the Bradley Woods, Huntington and Rocky River reservations. The Cleveland Metroparks wants to make it easier for people to enter and move around in its three Westshore reservations, whether it’s by foot or by car.

The Metroparks has not established cost estimates for projects outlined in the master plans, which are to be presented to the park district's governing three-member board in December, said Kelly Coffman, the system's senior strategic planner. Some improvements will be paid for with money earmarked in future budgets for capital projects and maintenance, Coffman said, while others will be paid for with grants.

Some aspects of the plan are now being implemented, she said, while others will require additional planning and collaboration.

"Some of these are 20-year efforts," Coffman said.

The effort to better link the reservations with existing trails and sidewalks is part of the Cuyahoga Greenways project. Run by the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, the Metroparks and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, the Greenways project seeks to establish a network of paths and trails linking neighborhoods, parks and public transportation across the county.

A master plan is a guide or blueprint for future use, development and improvement.

Here’s what the park district has planned for the West Side:

Bradley Woods Reservation

At the 795-acre Bradley Woods Reservation in North Olmsted and Westlake, the Metroparks plans to add a boardwalk or trail that would connect the Codrington Shelterhouse Picnic Area to the park's entrance on Bradley Road. A boardwalk or trail would also be built east from the picnic area to a new pedestrian park entrance on Crocker Road.

A majority of Bradley Woods Reservation is wetlands, Coffman said. The Metroparks' goal, she said, is to better connect the park's existing trails to the surrounding neighborhoods so Bradley Woods can become a part of people's daily exercise routines.

Huntington Reservation

The Metroparks is looking at either improving or replacing its management center at the 103-acre Huntington Reservation on Lake Road.

"Huntington Reservation has some special challenges because even though it's one of our smallest parks, it's one of the most used," Coffman said.

A reconfiguration of parking south of Lake Road is planned, which also would enhance visibility of the crossing and increase pedestrian safety.

At Huntington Beach, the Metroparks plans to replace restroom and refreshment buildings. Work would be done to stabilize the bluff and study ways to prevent further beach erosion.

"The high water levels have impacted the amount of sand available," Coffman said.

The south entrance from Wolf Road may be moved east, away from the parking lot for the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. A pedestrian bridge across Porter Creek is planned to separate hikers and runners from cars. Separate equestrian trails will be maintained, Coffman said.

At the Wolf Picnic Area, the canopy will be replaced with a shelter.

Rocky River Reservation

The reservation's 2,572 acres make it the fourth-largest among the Metroparks' 18 reservations. It runs through eight communities – Berea, Brook Park, Cleveland, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township and Rocky River.

"It's a part of people's day-to-day world," Coffman said.

Park officials want to improve access, especially from Lakewood and Rocky River. Specifically, the Metroparks intends to work with those cities to improve bike and pedestrian access from the Detroit Road bridge.

Plans call for the addition of an all-purpose trail on the east side of the river from the Little Met Golf Course Clubhouse to the Mastick / Puritas Road bridge. This would provide hikers and bikers with a trail loop between Lorain and Puritas roads.

An all-purpose trail along the Mastick Road entrance will be built in 2019 during the reconstruction of a bridge on that section of Mastick.

The Metroparks is also considering the addition of a driving range at Mastick Woods Golf Course and shortening the 9-hole course, Coffman said.

At the Rocky River Nature Center in North Olmsted, which Coffman said is the Metroparks' most visited nature center, the plan is to improve bike and pedestrian circulation and better accommodate overflow parking. A nearby trail will be extended to the building.

At the Lagoon Picnic Area on the east side of the river, a boardwalk will be added to offer better access to the wetlands, and a nature-themed play area may be built.

About 25 percent of the reservation’s land has been developed, an amount that exceeds the Metroparks’ guideline of 20 percent. The organization will consider removing ballfields and pavement in various locations, the draft master plan states.

Planners hope to review the master plans for each reservation every five to 10 years, said Coffman, who has been with the Metroparks for 4 ½ years and previously spent a decade at the Columbus and Franklin County Metroparks.

The master plans are being updated by a committee of 25 Metroparks employees. No consultants have been hired to assist with the planning, Coffman said.

The most recent round of updates began in 2014 with a study of the Lakefront Reservation and has included several reservations each year since 2015. The current round of updates includes Mill Stream Run Reservation, which runs through Berea, Middleburg Heights, North Royalton and Strongsville.

The first of six open house-style meetings about the master plans was Tuesday at the Bradley Woods Reservation.

"It's really a good opportunity for us to hear from the community about the features and programs that they like," Coffman said of the meetings. "If there's anything that we could do better, we want to hear about that."

The master plan updates and comment forms are online at clevelandmetroparks.com/reservationplans

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