By Sue Botos
Rocky River Park is a popular gathering spot for residents to catch a summer concert or watch a spectacular sunset over Lake Erie. But over the years, vegetation, particularly on the hillside below the park’s upper level viewing deck, has started to obscure that scene, and other landscaping has become overgrown.
At September’s Fall Arts Festival, the Rocky River Parks and Recreation Foundation unveiled a plan, donated by landscape architect Christine Jurs, that detailed upgrades to the park’s plantings, parking lot and main observation deck, as well as the picnic pavilion and handicapped access.
“This is still in its infancy, but these are exciting plans,” remarked Mayor Pam Bobst at a recent City Council meeting. She added that the improvements have already begun with the replacement of shrubbery behind the main-deck benches. The Rocky River Parks and Recreation Commission’s master plan will guide future improvements, she stated.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Tom Fattlar said the master plan will continue to be reviewed, and an arborist will be consulted concerning the welfare of the trees, particularly those blocking views from the upper deck.
“The shelter is showing its age and needs some repairs,” Fattlar said in a phone interview. He said that plans call for the structure to be redesigned to mirror the style of Elmwood Cabin. Erosion control, particularly in the amphitheater area, installed in 2007, is also on the wish list.
“We also want to make the front of the park more inviting, with terracing and improving views of the park (from the street) without having to walk through it,” continued Fattlar.
Fattlar said the plans have not yet been reviewed in their entirety by the Parks and Recreation Foundation, and that a firm price for the work has yet to be determined. “The ideas don’t have a cost associated with them yet. This is still the fruition of the idea,” said Fattlar, noting the work will be privately funded. He stated the plan also gives the foundation a tool with which to solicit further support from the community.
“This plan demonstrates the things that can be done to move the park forward. We want to continue to make it great,” said Fattlar, adding that there is no set time frame for the work.
The last major capital improvements project for the park took place in 2007, and cost $100,000. Part of the cost was offset by $20,000 raised from a 2004 “Hole in One” contest sponsored by Huntington Bank. Upgrades included erosion control with a series of four stone retaining walls, which formed the amphitheater, a paver walkway with benches offering a lake view from the top of the park and new landscaping. The project received an “Outstanding” award from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association and was recognized at the organization’s conference the same year.