LORAIN — More than 20 years of frustration regarding King’s Woods were aired during a meeting of City Council’s Building and Lands committee Monday night.
At the meeting, resident John Wargo said the land, which is a section of about 40 acres of undeveloped land bordered by West 12th Street and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, has had several issues in recent years, including logging in 2015 and a lack of maintenance of two of the areas’ retention ponds.
“For 20 years we’ve been having trouble back there,” he said. “We got no help for 20 years. They’ve been kicking the can down the road. We had to have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency come in to help us get things done here.”
The meeting took place because Wargo and other residents wanted to voice their frustrations with how the area has been maintained after City Council unanimously approved to accept the land as a donation from the Lorain County Land Bank last week.
“I wanted to give you your time on this because I thought you deserved it,” Councilwoman Mary Springowski, D-at large and chairwoman of the committee, said. “It’s a very emotional issue, and I felt very badly for the people who lived in the area and saw those woods taken down.”
The donation set a plan in motion to have Lorain County Metro Parks take over the land.
“The trees that were cut down previously obviously were a detriment to the property, but they felt they could work with what is there and improve things so future generations of Lorainites would have a purely natural setting to spend time in and secure this section of land so we don’t have to worry about it being developed improperly,” Safety-Service Director Dan Given said at the March 5 meeting.
Mayor Chase Ritenauer said the plan would be a great thing for Lorain and for the King’s Woods area because if the land belongs to the Metro Parks “they can protect it.”
Given said in the plan, Metro Parks agreed to take on 15 standard city lots as well as two larger pieces of land — one that’s 24.6 acres and another that’s 19.2 acres.
At the March 5 meeting, Given also said that the site of the former Lakeview Elementary School is near the King’s Woods site and “should be part of this discussion as well.”
“I met with the CEO (David Hardy), asking what their intent was with the property,” Given said. “I told him what the ultimate long-term plan would be and he met with (Chief of Operations Jeff Hawks), and they were thrilled to participate and to let him know if this plan comes together.”
Springowski said in past years residents have had concerns about development in the area after several companies had expressed interest in doing so, but the partnership with Metro Parks ensures that won’t happen.
“Safeguards have been put into place so that this will not happen again,” she said. “And we are working on a fix so it is not developed back there and the people can enjoy it for what it was and what it can be. We’re trying to be positive on this and to work with the community to make this something that will enhance their lives.”