Cleveland Metroparks is beginning a major overhaul of Garfield Park Reservation, including the restoration of a historic pond, enhancements to streams and wetlands, new trails and the addition of a new education and recreation program facility. The transformational project will pay homage to the nearly 130-year-old park, increase recreational and educational opportunities for visitors, and improve the ecological health of the reservation and Mill Creek watershed.
Garfield Park Reservation has been a popular destination for the surrounding community since it became a public park in 1894. The park formerly featured two ponds, first built in the early 1900s, that served as a year-round destination for family activities including fishing, row boating and ice skating. However, the construction boom of the 1950s and 1960s led to sediment build up in Wolf Creek (a tributary to Mill Creek), deteriorating the health of the creek and filling the ponds, and the recreational and educational opportunities that had drawn generations of families to the park were diminished.
“Garfield Park Reservation has been one of our gems of the Emerald necklace for over 35 years, however, the park’s history goes back much further,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian M. Zimmerman. “Thanks to generous supporters and project partners, this restoration project will revive the park’s historic past while creating a healthier and more engaging community asset for generations to come.”
(Conceptual rendering of program center)
Two separate $1 million donations from Ohio CAT and the Brown and Kunze Foundation, along with several other family foundations and individuals, and support from Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s (NEORSD) Stormwater Management Reimbursement Fund and Ohio EPA are making this transformative project possible. The restoration of the historic two-acre pond, made possible by a lead gift from Ohio CAT’s Ken Taylor, will include fishing docks, overlooks, and a new surrounding accessible trail network. A new education and recreation program facility, thanks to a generous grant by the Brown and Kunze Foundation, will offer water-related try-it sports such as paddleboarding and fishing, both of which were identified as high priorities by the community.
“As a partner of the Metroparks, Ohio CAT provided seed funding to restore the historic Garfield Park Reservation,” said Ken Taylor, President of Ohio CAT. “We are proud to play a part in helping restore this urban oasis where visitors may explore a wide array of wildlife, as well as the many recreational and educational opportunities.”
Since spring 2021, Cleveland Metroparks has been seeking public input on the project design process through community surveys of park guests and community groups, public tours, on-site activities, and through partnerships with West Creek Conservancy and Organic Connects, Inc.
The project will return recreational opportunities to the reservation lost a half century ago and turn Garfield Park Reservation into a hub for Cleveland Metroparks Outdoor Recreation programs as well as its Youth Outdoors program that strives to meet the needs of youth living in or near the City of Cleveland.
In addition to the recreational and educational benefits, support from NEORSD and Ohio EPA will help restore Wolf Creek by establishing floodplain connectivity, stabilizing streambanks, enhancing aquatic habitat, removing invasive species and planting over an acre of trees and shrubs. The project will also enhance approximately three acres of floodplains and wetland habitat.
Remnants of the historic park, including century-old stone bridges, stairs and walls can still be seen by visitors to Garfield Park Reservation. Through decades of protection and improvements by Cleveland Metroparks, the reservation remains a popular spot for visitors and welcomed 350,000 recreational visitors last year. Recent improvements to the reservation include the completion of the Mill Creek Connector Trail, installation of approximately 500 new trees and shrubs, restoration of historic stone staircases, and the completion of the new Iron Springs Shelter and accessible nature play area at Red Oak Picnic Area.
Construction on the estimated $6 million Garfield Pond Restoration Project will be completed in a phased approach beginning with pond and stream restoration. The project is expected to be complete by summer 2024. Visit clevelandmetroparks.com/GarfieldRestoration for more information on updates and ways to participate in the transformative project.
(Conceptual rendering of pond)
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