JEFFERSON — County commissioners are supporting the Ashtabula County Metroparks request for a grant through the state’s Land and Water Conservation fund for the Red Brook Metropark.
The former golf course property encompasses 145 acres between Lake Road West and Carpenter Road in Saybrook Township. The former owner, Members Group LLC, sold those parcels for a combined $1 million to Hemlock Gorge LLC, a Western Reserve Land Conservancy holdings entity. The Metroparks completed the land purchase on Oct. 31.
In a letter of support commissioners stated the Metroparks are seeking matching funds for the installation of ADA-accessible trails and other amenities that will help transform the former Harbor Golf Course into a fully functioning Metropark property in Saybrook Township.
“The newly-acquired Red Brook Metropark offers an ideal mix of active and passive recreational opportunities as a centrally-located public park,” commissioners wrote.
Commissioner J.P. Ducro said the property is a wonderful asset to the county and he hopes the Metroparks are successful in getting the grant. The location is unique and could have the benefit of a number of winter activities for residents that the county sorely lacks, he said.
“For so long that had been a private facility and now it is open to the public,” Ducro said.
Ashtabula County Metroparks Executive Director Larry Frimerman said the Metroparks have been successful in the past in obtaining $9 million in grants for park projects throughout the county from local, state and federal entities.
The grant being sought is for $351,000, which if obtained will be used as a match with more than $351,000 in Clean Ohio Conservation Fund and other grant money for a total of $703,000 in grants for improvement projects at the park.
A number of improvements are on the radar, Frimerman said. ADA-accessible, paved walking trails would loop on the north side of the park and tie into existing golf cart trails, Frimerman said.
“It really does need to have accessible trails to really make this park something the entire community can use,” Frimerman said.
Buildings on the property would also be renovated and repaired. A former pro-shop would become a public meeting space, welcome center and office space, and a former pool house would be converted into public restrooms. There would also be construction of a pavilion, small play area, renovation of a parking lot and all park signage.
The Metroparks are not placing all their eggs in the Red Brook basket, Frimerman said, and the goal is to develop parks throughout the county in the places where the parks system can most successfully leverage outside funds in order to conserve taxpayer dollars.
The Red Brook Metropark is just one of several projects in the sights for 2019. Grants are also being sought for access to Turkey Creek Metropark and to plan and construct the first phase of the Pymatuning Valley Greenway Trail and other amenities at parks throughout the county.
“We’re expecting to apply for more than $1.5 million for other parks and facilities,” Frimerman said.