Shared rec director moves forward

May 23 Richfield Joint Recreation District meeting

The Richfield Joint Recreation District board approved a resolution to share a recreation director with the Village of Richfield.

According to the resolution, “in the interest of regionalism and cooperation” Richfield Village Mayor Michael Wheeler would hire one full-time employee for the post of parks and recreation director to provide park and recreation management services for the village and the RJRD.  

The person’s salary would be about $73,000, according to village scale, and each entity would pay 50%. In addition, the village would pay 100% of the employee’s benefits, including the cost of the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, health and life insurance. The village would also provide a vehicle and be responsible for the maintenance, gas, insurance and similar expenses of the vehicle.

RJRD would provide one computer, IT services and office space. 

Either the village or the park district can cancel the agreement with 90 days notice.

The vote to approve the resolution was 5-1 with Maureen McGinty voting “no.” Dave Wehner was absent. McGinty would not comment on her vote after the meeting.

RJRD board Chairperson Anita Gantner said the agreement would go back to the village. Although village council votes on the agreement, only the mayor will be responsible for hiring the individual.

Car break ins

Two vehicles were recently broken into in the main parking lot near the Lodge. The Richfield Heritage Preserve monitors the area with 24-hour cameras, and the break-ins were captured on video.

“We provided police with images of the individuals and the vehicles. This is happening in all of the park systems in Northeast Ohio,” RJRD board member Jeff DeLuca said.

He added that park visitors should not leave anything visible in their parked cars.

In other business:

DeLuca reported that the tree-climbing course is being removed, as it was no longer considered safe.

Board members approved placing a $180 half-page ad for the Lodge in the Tree City USA program planned for June 9 at Richfield Village Town Hall.

Shari Green said one wedding was scheduled for the Lodge in May, but there were no new bookings.

Gantner thanked Green and Richfield Village Councilperson Sue Ann Philippbar for setting up the gift registry for the Lodge. She said items priced at over $3,000 now decorate the bathrooms and bridal room.

Mike Selig said the fundraising committee is preparing an application for a Nature Works Grant, which is due July 13.

McGinty said that capital money is available if matching funds are required for some grants.

Anticipating large attendance at the June 12 open house celebrating the completion of the dam construction and the filling of the Lower Lake, board member Mark Robeson said the marketing and communications committee is creating signs to describe features in the park and recognize donor companies.

All of the board members will be positioned around the park to answer questions. The village is providing a van to transport people from the parking lot to the dam, as needed.


Bob Matusik constructed a bar for the Lodge, including a front panel made from beautiful wormy chestnut, from salvaged wood from the park.

Volunteer coordinator Susan Czaplicki reported that many people volunteered their time in the park to prepare for the open house in June.

Employees of Burns & McDonnell and other RHP volunteers worked with Chris Moore to improve the Story Book Forest trail. They dug drainage ditches, added crushed limestone then re-routed the trail.

Richfield Cub Pack 3387 washed windows and cleaned the interior and porch of Amity House. Hudson High School students scraped and painted 15 picnic tables.

North Royalton Scout Troop 526 cleared vegetation from a concrete pad of the Oviatt House and painted two picnic tables.

Dave Kalal did extensive work in the Lodge. He drywalled and mudded the kitchen and applied polyurethane to the floor.  He also hung lights in the back porch.

The RHP volunteer group did a total clean up of the Lodge, including washing windows and removing baseboards in preparation for the floor to be refinished. They also cleaned the buildings, Gemini and Chagrin. Pat Hayes weed-wacked a section of the Buckeye Trail.

The Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve worked on stabilizing the North House and Amity house, including tuck-pointing. They replaced windows at the Mill and will have a docent at the Mill every Sunday this summer.  They conducted a wildflower hike broadcast on a Cleveland television station.

The Friends hired an event planner, Debbie Williams, to arrange a fundraising event at the Lodge on Oct. 16. The proceeds will fund work the Friends are doing at the Kirby Mill.

Williams said the Friends event will be casual and highlight the park.

Selig said he hoped the event could help raise funds for the rest of the park as well.

Jackie Klonowski of Kingsbury Trail asked if the board could keep people from hiking near her back yard. She and her husband, Phil, said at a February meeting people walking on a trail can see into their yard, and they asked the park board to create a trail farther from their property.

Gantner said the planner assigned to evaluating the trails has yet to do so. 

DeLuca said he has been busy with the dam projects but will look at the area as soon as possible. ∞