Park district, nonprofit selected to manage historic ‘farm in the city’

For a number of years, sheep could be seen grazing on a nearly 17-acre sanctuary in the midst of a heavily developed commercial area along state Route 18, next door to Medina Hospital and just outside the Medina city limits. Last fall, when the estate hosted an auction on the property, speculation swirled about the future of 4092 Medina Rd. Would it be developed? Would the buildings be razed?

Medina County Park District and its nonprofit partner, Friends of Medina County Parks Inc., announced in late May they will soon be the stewards of the well-known but, perhaps, misunderstood ‘farm in the city.’

This unique property, which consists of three houses – most notable of which is a Victorian-era home – and several outbuildings, was owned by Edson J. Brown and Ross M. Trump, both prominent antique dealers. It was Brown and Trump’s wishes that their Medina Township property be preserved as a working farm for cultural, educational and aesthetic purposes. They envisioned it 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 to inspire future generations

“We are delighted to be working with the Medina County Park District and Friends of Medina County Parks Inc. on this project,” said Elizabeth M. Bux, attorney for the estate.  “Mr. Brown and Mr. Trump would be very pleased with the plans for their beloved farm and with the enormous benefit that it will provide to the community.”

Upon Brown and Trump’s passing, a committee was appointed by the estate to select an organization that could formulate a vision for the property and make it a reality. Friends of Medina County Parks Inc. and the Medina County Park District submitted a proposal in February.

Upon reviewing a handful of proposals submitted by other pre-selected applicants, the committee chose Friends of Medina County Parks Inc. to hold the title to the property and manage estate-provided funds for its long-term care, with MCPD acting as the property manager. Much of the grounds are protected by a conservation easement held by Western Reserve Land Conservancy. MCPD was the natural choice to manage the land, permit public access and offer activities and experiences consistent with local history.

The property is located along a busy state route in an area of great interest to MCPD. Opportunities to protect land and form pedestrian/greenway connections in the eastern part of the county will become increasingly challenging in the coming years as the community remains one of the fastest-growing areas in Ohio. 

Not far from the property is Lake Medina, where MCPD has a number of exciting capital projects planned – from improving fishing and kayaking access to establishing a third entrance with an accessible-to-all trail and more. In addition, 20 years ago, Ted and Willette Chandler donated 100 acres off East Smith Road to the park district.

The Chandlers’ donation agreement prohibits development on the property for 75 years with one exception: construction of a bike trail. MCPD was recently awarded a $500,000 Clean Ohio Fund trail grant that will enable the district to build the “Lake Medina Greenway” which will run from Smith Road to Lake Medina via an easement with Summa Hospital. This property will become part of a greater network of public spaces managed by MCPD.

MCPD will update its master plan for Lake Medina this year to include all of these new opportunities, including the farm property. That site will not be a typical park/nature center that is open daily to the general public. Entry would be by invitation only for special events, programs, meetings, workshops and tours. Friends and MCPD are developing partnership agreements with a number of local nonprofit organizations to discuss uses of the buildings as well as the grounds. The Medina County Historical Society, Feeding Medina County, the Medina County ADAMH Board, Hope Recovery Community and Cathy’s House are among them. Through this unique gathering of partners befitting this unique opportunity, Brown and Trump’s wishes and vision for the property can be achieved. ∞