Civic Development Corporation teams with Metroparks

The Grand River Valley Hikers, started in 2016, is one of the groups that takes advantage of improvements at Ashtabula County Metroparks made possible by the Civic Development Corporation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the next in a series of articles looking at the Civic Development Corporation’s 2015 completed projects.

The Grand River Valley Hikers, started in 2016 by a group of Ashtabula County residents, is gaining popularity.

Jen and Mike Pocza, from Harpersfield, along with friends Shara and Will Parkomaki formed the group out of their love for backpacking and hiking. They share a passion for exploring natural trails while encouraging others to enjoy greenspaces by getting exercise.

The Ashtabula County Metroparks serve as some of their favorite places to adventure, they said. They especially enjoy Lampson Reservoir and Hatches Corners Metroparks. Both parks, in addition to Blakeslee Metropark, were quality of life projects that received funds from Civic Development Corporation of Ashtabula County during the 2015 Placemaking Campaign.

When they are not hiking, the Poczas enjoy canoeing, paddleboarding, running and biking. Jen said she loves parks that are pet friendly and have water access. As does Camryn, their 9-year-old Labrador who can sometimes be seen running the new floating walkway at Lampson Reservoir Metropark — when the weather is right.

CDC awarded funds to the Ashtabula County Metroparks for this latest capital improvement, including the addition of the walkway and observation area, as well as for a large pine rail trail bridge.

“Ashtabula County has so many treasures to offer. Our group’s mission is to encourage others to maintain their health and fitness, preserve the outdoors for future generations to enjoy and, most importantly, explore and embrace our local trails and other outdoor offerings,” Jen said. “Thank you to Ashtabula County Metroparks, CDC and the countless others who work tirelessly to make our county the best it can be.”

For more information on the Grand Valley Hikers visit their Facebook page.

Heading into 2020, CDC officials said they aim to continue providing Ashtabula County with capital improvement projects to enhance the lives of residents such as the Poczas, as well as other exercise enthusiasts, children, pets and neighbors.

Visit to learn how to apply for 2020 campaign funds.

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