Board establishes terms for champion program

Sept. 25 RJRD board meeting

Following a long discussion at their August meeting, the Richfield Joint Recreation District Board agreed to all of the details of the Champion Program at this meeting. Chairperson Anita Gantner reviewed a redlined copy with the board in anticipation of voting on the final document at their October meeting.

 The program was conceived during the strategic planning sessions as a way to allow a group or individual to assume the responsibility to restore, renovate and re-use one of the structures in the Richfield Heritage Preserve.

A champion would need to raise funds and perform work, or contract for work to be done, to restore the building. To be a champion, the candidate would first need to submit a letter of intent.  If the board approves the terms of the letter, a full application would be required within six months. If the application were approved, the board and the applicant would sign a memorandum of understanding.

The MOU would contain performance milestones and could be voided if milestones are not met. Five years from the date of the approval of the MOU, 70% of the funding must be in hand and approved construction documents must be obtained. The project must be completed within nine years.

The list of structures that a group may champion includes North House, Waterfront Shelter, Adirondack Shelter, Adirondack Sleeping Huts, Classroom, Garfield House, Gemini Cabin, Kirby House, Coach House, Far-a-Way Pines Shelter, Hilltop Cabin, Kirby Garage, Robinson Shelter, Wayside Shelter and Wonken Tonken Shelter. However, the board may withdraw any of the structures from the program prior to the signing of a MOU.

It had been stated at previous meetings that the above structures are currently safe and the Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve had stabilized most of them. If, however, safety issues arise, the board could choose to raze a structure.

An RJRD staff member would have oversight of all projects. To date, only the Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve have inquired about championing a structure and have been waiting for explicit directions as to how to apply.


Board member Mike Selig reported that the grant committee is working on submitting grant requests for trail work and a Nature Works grant. They are also hoping to apply for state capital allocation money.

John Piepsny, RHP park director, presented a slide show of the several groups who performed volunteer work in the park.

Gantner thanked the Friends for getting “an enormous amount of work done in a short amount of time” on the Amity House.

Friends President Corey Ringle responded, “Thank you for the opportunity. We’ve been wanting to do this for 9 years.”

Shari Green, Lodge coordinator, reported that seven weddings were held at the Lodge in August. The businesses CAT and Cohen & Co. held corporate events in the building. Green reported that rental sales have hit $150,000 for the first eight months of the year.

Susan Czaplicki, volunteer coordinator, reported that Sequoia Financial employees worked on the trails and DocuSign employees cleaned Chagrin Cabin for the open house.

An Eagle Scout, Luka Graber, built and donated five picnic tables to the park. Other volunteers did various other clean-up tasks around the park.

Ringle reported that the Friends needed to halt work on the interior of the Amity House while permitting issues are resolved.  On the exterior of the building, they removed the front porch for restoration and tuck-pointed the bricks. They also removed the Juliette balcony.

They had the water wheel at the Kirby Mill cleaned and a preservative applied. The fire department inspected the Kirby House and Kirby Mill before the Friends held an open house at the buildings. ∞

Luka Graber, a senior at Highland High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 526, constructed five picnic tables for the Richfield Heritage Preserve. The tables have been placed at High Lea Shelter and near the Upper Lake. 

Photo courtesy of S. Czaplicki.

Some of the Structures that could be championed are shown here

Built in 1974 the Robinson Shelter provides a scenic view of the Lower Lake.