The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Neighborhoods Ashtabula

June 15, 2014

It’s hard work keeping Lake Shore Park the crown jewel of Ashtabula

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — Since 1906, it’s been one of the crown jewels of Lake Erie’s small lakeside parks. Thousands of people visit Lake Shore Park yearly, and most of them are awed by what they see.

The lawns are meticulously mowed, the exotic birds are a treat to watch, and the Rock Garden and flowers are beautiful. It’s no wonder visitors from around the country give the park compliments.

“Some people from Youngstown gave us a nice compliment just a few days ago,” said Bill Scoville, general foreman of the Ashtabula Township Park  Commission. “We get compliments almost daily. There’s a lot here to see.

Scoville has worked for the Ashtabula Township Parks Commission since 2002 and has been general foreman since 2007. Besides Scoville there is one full-time employee and nine part-time seasonal workers. Scoville and the other full-timer work year round. The seasonal workers work from April to October.

Scoville said one of the main reasons Lake Shore Park gets so many compliments is the hard work of his crew. Many of the crew are retirees.

“We mow and weed whip every day,” Scoville said. “Lake Shore Park has 56 acres and there’s constant maintenance.”

He said that means picking up trash, cleaning buildings and restrooms, and drainage and water and some electrical work, as well as other tasks. He said almost everything is done ‘in-house.’

“We have to care for our birds,” he said. “We just got a new addition, a male swan. We got him on Thursday, May 29. So now we have a pair of happy swans, too.”

Lake Shore Park also has two peacocks, scores of Muscovy Ducks, seven recently donated Penguin ducks and other birds. Added to this, the park is a stop on the path of many northern migratory birds.

There are 15 flower beds, including the Rock Garden. These floral arrangements are often the object of visitor praise. They are all designed by one crew member, with a little labor help from other crew members. Scoville said all of the visitor attractions, like the historic pavilion, the beach, the hillock paths and gardens and waterworks, are maintained by his crew.

“Our biggest issue right now is too many trees dying,” Scoville said. “A lot of older trees died this year and it’s proving to be difficult to replace them. Right now we need more trees to plant.”

Scoville said his crew does most of the tree trimming but sometimes major tree work must be farmed out.

“We also now maintain four miles of Indian Trails Park, including the new wetlands observation deck on 24th Street,” he said. “You can almost walk all the way on trails from Smolen Gulf Bridge to Main Street if you don’t mind getting your feet wet.”

Winter was hard on Lake Shore Park, as it was on most of northern Ohio. That was compounded by a cool, wet spring. Scoville said some plant growth and maintenance work connected with it is almost a month behind.

“We’re doing things right now we normally would be doing four weeks ago,” he said. “But we’re catching up quickly.”

Scoville runs two shifts per day and spreads the crew’s work so there’s always someone on hand. He said the pavilion is open to be rented by partygoers, and everything is ready for the summer.

“We should have a good season if nature cooperates,” he said.

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