The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 21, 2014

Donation of land could expand size of Conneaut’s Malek park

CONNEAUT — Malek Park, Conneaut’s largest municipal recreation area, could grow even bigger if a donation of adjoining land can somehow be accepted, officials said.

Members of the Keith Anderson family want to make a gift of some 14 acres of land to the park accessed from Parrish Road, a short distance from Lake Erie, Rod Raker, Conneaut Tree Commission chairman, said Thursday. The land would be split into two parcels: an 8-acre chunk southwest of the park and the balance north and closer to the road, he said.

The donation would allow the tree commission to expand its arboretum now taking root inside the park, Raker said.

“This is absolutely wonderful,” Raker said. “And the really rewarding aspect is the Anderson family is excited (about the project). They’re going to make good partners.”

City Manager Tim Eggleston said the Andersons first expressed interest in a donation last year. Before the gift can be accepted, there are some legal hurdles to overcome, he said. City Council, for example, must approve a property survey, Eggleston said.

“We’ve got a ways to go,” he said.

Malek Park was created in the 1980s from land donated to the city by industrialist Edward Malek. Over the years, a ball field, playground, exercise trail, pond and observation deck and gazebo have been built. The latest addition is the arboretum, created in 1996 and home to dozens of species of trees and shrubs.

Trees were added in small increments annually until four or five years ago, when the tree commission put the program into high gear. “(Members) decided we could do better than this,” Raker said.

In recent years, the arboretum has been a showplace for a range of plants unfamiliar to most people. Local nurseries have donated trees to the arboretum “that the public knows nothing about,” Raker said.

Bluestone Perennials in Madison, for example, have provided “several hundred plants” to the arboretum, Raker said. The facility has also benefited from several helping hands, including the Conneaut Port Authority, whose workers helped spread mulch last year, he said.

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