For Immediate Release
May 7, 2024

Medina County Park District Purchases 111 Acres in Sharon Township with Ohio EPA Support

Medina County Park District (MCPD) is pleased to announce the purchase of 111 acres in Sharon Township between Fixler and Koontz roads. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP) played a pivotal role in facilitating the purchase of the Koontz Creek Conservation Area by providing over $1.1 million in project funding. The park district had been working to acquire this area since 2019. The park district's $1,113,095 purchase was offset with $824,490.80 from the grant. The balance of the WRRSP award will fund MCPD's restoration efforts on the property.

Koontz Creek Conservation Area is located in the Wolf Creek Watershed, which is upstream of Barberton Reservoir. Water here flows into the reservoir, which provides drinking water to the city of Barberton in Summit County. The property includes 4,319 linear feet of primary headwater streams in addition to 4,760 linear feet of Koontz Creek, a high-quality cool-water stream habitat with 18 acres of associated seeps and Category 2 wetlands that flow directly into Wolf Creek near MCPD’s Green Leaf Park. Providing funding for this site aligned naturally with the mission of WRRSP which is to counter the loss of ecological function and biological diversity that jeopardizes the health of Ohio's water resources. Specifically, WRRSP funds projects that target the protection and restoration of high-quality streams and wetlands.

In addition to the important connection to drinking water quality, the property has significant ecological features. Surveys conducted by MCPD’s natural resources staff along with biologists from Summit Metro Parks identified large trees, some of which are estimated to be more than 200 years old, at least five different bat species, the rare/noteworthy starflower, and the state-threatened slender willow.

Steve Malone, Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program Manager, stated: "Ohio EPA's WRRSP team is proud of the partnership we've developed with the Medina County Park District, which ultimately led to the funding of the exceptional Koontz Creek project.”

MCPD's restoration efforts on the property will include retiring farm fields, stabilizing eroding soils with native vegetation, enhancing headwater stream habitat, establishing approximately ten acres of seasonal wetlands, and reforestation. A condition of WRRSP funding is the placement of an environmental covenant on the property. The covenant protecting the Koontz Creek project covers 105 of its 111 acres. Future improvements and public access will be limited. Although there are no trails planned for the site at this time, the park district has a number of new trail projects planned throughout the county. The importance here, at Koontz Creek, is protecting the resources.

WRRSP is part of the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF). Administered by Ohio EPA's Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance, WPCLF provides below-market financing to Ohio communities for the planning, design, and construction of wastewater treatment facilities and infrastructure. WRRSP funds are generated by advancing a portion of the repayments on loans awarded through the WPCLF and applying the money to qualifying WRRSP projects. A participating WPCLF loan recipient/sponsor voluntarily agrees to sponsor a WRRSP project as part of the loan by entering into a formal sponsorship agreement with the WRRSP project implementer, such as a park district. For the Koontz Creek project, the city of Akron was the WRRSP sponsor, thereby providing the funding.

Shammas Malik, City of Akron Mayor, stated: “The City of Akron is proud to partner with Ohio EPA and project implementers to sponsor projects like this to help conserve and improve our region's waterways.  These projects restore and protect the environment, which aligns with my administration's goals surrounding environmental sustainability. The ratepayers here in Akron benefit from these types of projects due to reduced interest rates on sewer loans, which in turn lower the debt payments.”

The Koontz Creek acquisition represents MCPD’s second WRRSP project. The first, a $1.5 million award for which Akron was also the sponsor, helped the park district acquire the Bear Swamp Conservation Area, a 236-acre property, rich with wetlands, in Montville and Guilford townships in 2016. That property also has no public access.


For Immediate Release
April 30, 2024

Park District Unveils Updates Regarding Chippewa Lake

The arrival of May 2024 ushers in an exciting time for Medina County Park District (MCPD) and Chippewa Lake—Ohio’s largest inland glacial lake. The park district is opening a new paddlecraft access site May 1 and launching a new website dedicated to Chippewa Lake. The restoration of the former Chippewa Lake Amusement Park begins this week, too. provides information about activities, rules on the water, partnerships, the park district’s master plan for Chippewa, and more. The new website coincides with the opening of a brand-new paddlecraft launch. Located at 8108 Lake Road in Westfield Township, it offers visitors a convenient place to begin an adventure by canoe or kayak.

The paddlecraft site will be open May through October each year. Hours are 6 a.m. to one hour past sunset. It is not an ADA-accessible launch; it’s a pathway made of interlocking pavers leading to the outlet, where it’s a short, half-mile float to Chippewa Lake. Near the small parking lot is an H2Ohio-funded wetland enhancement project where, just a year ago, stood a monoculture of invasive grass.

Most notable this week may be the long-awaited cleanup and restoration of the amusement park property, which MCPD purchased in June 2020. The former amusement park welcomed visitors for 100 years before closing in 1978. Rides were left to rust and decay, and Mother Nature quickly obscured the pathways and infrastructure.  

The mayor of Chippewa Lake, Joanne Dodaro, has lived in the community for nearly 50 years, and she is excited for this next chapter. “I am very pleased that the park district will improve and preserve this beautiful piece of land for all to enjoy, once again,” Dodaro said.

Thanks to support from H2Ohio and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, MCPD will enhance two streams on the amusement park land, remove debris and crumbling asphalt, and remove non-native vegetation. The work will take place over approximately eight weeks.

“We’ll soon begin designing public access,” said MCPD Director Nathan Eppink. “This is the first step. We’re setting the stage for success.” Initial public access will include parking, trails, seating, picnic areas, displays, and more. A kayak launch for people of all abilities will be constructed in a future phase.

Launched by Governor Mike DeWine in 2019, H2Ohio is a collaborative water-quality effort to provide clean and safe water to Ohio. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency each has a significant role in H2Ohio through the natural infrastructure of wetlands, the reduction in nutrient runoff, and increasing access to clean drinking water and quality sewer systems. To learn more, visit

April 22, 2024

On Friday, March 29, Medina County Park District commissioners approved the rule changes for Chippewa Lake. The rules will be filed with Ohio Department of Natural Resources. A summary of the rules were advertised on April 9 and 16, and after the first advertisement, a 10-day wait period will begin. After that, the rules can start being enforced by the MCPD police, whereas the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks & Watercraft, waits 75 days from filing before rules are enforceable. For more information visit


For Immediate Release
January 9, 2023

Medina County Park District, in collaboration with Friends of Medina County Parks, Achieves Two Top Honors

first place award in the Management Innovation1Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) has announced its 2023 Annual Awards of Excellence winners. Medina County Park District and Friends of Medina County Parks won the first-place award in the Management Innovation category for the Brown-Trump Homestead and Recovery Farm. In addition to earning this award, the collaborative project has been nominated as one of three finalists for the 2023 Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation. The Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation was established in 2010 to recognize the one park and recreation project, program, or event that has had the most significant impact on quality of life in the preceding year.

In May 2022, Medina County Park District (MCPD) and its nonprofit partner, Friends of Medina County Parks, Inc. (FOTP), were chosen by executors of the Brown-Trump estate to become the stewards of a well-known but, perhaps, misunderstood ‘farm in the city’ on State Route 18. The property, which includes three houses—most notable of which is a Victorian-era home—plus several outbuildings, was owned by Mr. Edson J. Brown and Mr. Ross M. Trump, both prominent antique dealers. Located at 4092 Medina Road, next to Medina Hospital, the land is protected by a restrictive conservation easement, a legal document held by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. Most of the property has to remain open space or be farmed. It cannot host walking trails or be used for any commercial purposes.

It was Brown and Trump’s wishes that their Medina Township property be preserved as a working farm for cultural, educational, and aesthetic purposes; as a green gateway to the city of Medina and a way to balance encroaching commercial development; as a museum and historical site; and as a community space that inspires future generations.

In 2023, MCPD entered into a ten-year lease with Hope Recovery Community (HRC), a Medina-based nonprofit that provides recovery housing for men with substance use disorder. The document’s execution was 11 months in the making, but it signified the unofficial start of the Brown-Trump Homestead — a unique collaborative partnership that established a first-of-its-kind recovery farm unlike anything else in the Midwest, perhaps even the country. HRC is dedicated to increasing sustained recovery by providing hope, support, advocacy, and resources to those impacted by addiction. The non-profit receives funding from Medina County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board.

In place of rent, HRC is responsible for maintaining the residential house, which increased the organization’s housing program by nearly 43 percent. HRC leads agricultural programming on the grounds and also develops several workforce tracts for the residents of the house and local recovery community. In the first year of the farm, Feeding Medina County received more than 1,000 pounds of produce grown at the Brown-Trump Homestead.

Although the Brown-Trump Homestead is not open daily to the general public, there will be opportunities for special events and tours in the future. With funds from the estate, FOTP and MCPD are in the process of restoring the Victorian, which was built in 1874. Once restored, the historic brick home will include display space for the Medina County Historical Society as well as offices for FOTP and a meeting space for local nonprofits.

The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on February 6, 2024 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio. One first place award winner will be presented with the 2023 Governor’s Award, a “best-in-show” award which includes a $500 contribution to the parks and recreation foundation of the agency winner.

“Parks and recreation professionals throughout Ohio work every day to improve the quality of life of the people they serve,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “This effort is a shining example of that kind of work, and we are pleased to be able to present this award.”

The awards are judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio.

Incorporated in 1963, OPRA is a non-profit, public interest organization representing over 2,000 professionals and citizen board members striving to provide quality parks and recreation facilities and opportunities for all Ohioans while protecting and preserving Ohio's natural resources, positively impacting local economies and health and wellness of its citizens.

For Immediate Release
January 3, 2024

Chippewa Lake Park Expands with 44-Acre Donation

pondOn December 5, 2023, Rob Smykal and his sister, Kris Mason, made a generous donation of 44 acres to the Medina County Park District (MCPD). This significant contribution, comprised of two parcels, is situated north of the Krabill Lodge near Chippewa Lake, contiguous with MCPD land.

The date of the donation held special significance, as it coincided with the birthday of their late father, Bob Smykal, who, alongside his wife Beverly, purchased the property in the 1970s. The Smykal family created lasting memories on the site, hosting picnics, fishing in a small pond, and camping out while enjoying radio broadcasts of baseball games.

Upon Bob's passing in December 2022 at the age of 96, his children, Rob and Kris, inherited the property. Their decision to donate it to the MCPD reflects a deep-rooted desire to preserve the land in its natural state, ensuring it remains untouched by development.

Rob and Kris expressed a shared sentiment regarding the property donation: “We are very excited this property will be preserved for future generations to enjoy. The Medina County Park District is a wonderful asset of Medina County and its residents, we know they will be an excellent steward of this property.”

The property's rich history aligns seamlessly with the MCPD's plans for extensive trails in the Chippewa Watershed. While development of this newly acquired land is projected to be at least five years away, the park district is currently focusing its efforts toward revitalizing a section of the former Chippewa Amusement Park. Rob and Kris envision a future where their children and grandchildren can continue to enjoy the property's beauty and tranquility for years to come.