ELYRIA — Cascade Park, under the direction of the Lorain County Metro Parks, will give residents a place to walk, bike and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
The rock formations, waterfalls and river views will be the focal points of the historic park now under the control of the county agency. On Tuesday night, park officials unveiled the master plan for Cascade Park and how over the coming years attractions will be added to enhance visitors’ experiences.
This comes 10 months after the 50-year deal inked between the city and Metro Parks went into effect with the park system taking over day-to-day park operations.
Metro Parks planning supervisor Don Kasych said he was very excited about the future of the park. Over the years, nature has tried to reclaim Cascade Park with river erosion, but plans to work around the new footprint are breathing new life into the park.
“We’re moving toward the future to celebrate the natural resources we do have at Cascade Park,” Kasych said Tuesday.
New observation decks, walking paths and picnic pavilions will be improved for visitors. A new amphitheater and 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot event center will open the park for community events and performances.
The Elyria Rotary Club, once interested in building an all-inclusive playground in Elywood Park, will now move its centennial celebratory park to Cascade Park.
The rock- and water-themed play area will be all inclusive to replace the current main play area. The water portion of the park will stop short of being a splash pad but will offer the kind of play experience that will leave children more than a little wet, said Metro Parks Director Jim Ziemnik.
“The experience of playing with water, stepping in water and getting wet is key to the development of all kids, because they all like to get wet,” he said. “This will be a great feature in the park, and we are happy the Rotary Club is looking to make this contribution.”
But the crowd at Elyria City Hall pushed back at one major planned improvement that extends into the Washington Avenue neighborhood situated between both Cascade and Elywood parks.
The Metro Parks hopes to construct a bridge over the Black River just south of the East Falls to Washington Avenue that will follow a new bike trail down to Elywood Park. A bike trail is not what some Washington Avenue residents want for their street.
“To have a bike zip past your driveway as you are trying to back out is pretty scary,” said longtime resident Bonnie Ivancic, a former 4th Ward city councilwoman.
Bill Bird, director of the Lorain County Historical Society, which has a pair of facilities on Washington Avenue, said the area is rich with history, including sandstone curbs and areas that date back centuries. The curb appeal, including the tree lawns, is important to the area.
Mayor Holly Brinda said the city shares the some concerns about disrupting the flow of the street.
“I walk that area. We all work that area, and there is the potential conflict with pedestrians and bike riders,” she said.
Ziemnik said nothing about the bike trail is set in stone, but the connectivity of the area is important.
“We think a lot of great things will happen at Cascade and Elywood, and the best thing about a master plan is we will keep a sense of flexibility and fluidity to make it better over time,” he said.
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