Exchange Club awarded $25K grant to update cabin

by Chris Studor

The cabin managed by the Brooklyn Exchange Club of Hinckley is often referred to as Hinckley Township’s “best-kept secret.” However, the cabin is no secret to families, community groups and safety organizations that have used it and know it’s a great place to host an event.

Plans are now underway to make the establishment, located at 2400 State Rd. in the Hinckley Reservation south of Whipp’s Ledges, even better now that the Park Foundation has awarded the Exchange Club a $25,000 grant.

“Exchange Club members are so grateful to the Park Foundation for this grant and it will go toward many improvements, the majority of which are aimed at making the cabin more accessible to the handicapped,” said Exchange Club President Tom Biesiada. “We saw an opportunity and went through the application process and now it’s time to get to work.”

On the day of the interview, four members were present as electricians set about replacing ceiling fans. Members Biesida, Dan Mazur (next year’s president elect), Jim Fordosi and Jim Burns sat down with their laundry list of projects and also explained the club’s rather unusual name and how it all came to be.

The original cabin, built in 1929, was owned by the Metroparks and managed by club members from the Brooklyn YMCA who were part of the National Exchange Club. The Brooklyn name continued to be used even though there are approximately 100 Exchange Clubs across the country.

Ownership of the cabin eventually went to a group of residents and then back to the park with the Exchange Club managing the property, which includes the main building (kitchen area), bunkhouse, large pavilion, pit toilets and expansive grounds. Biesiada said the year-round rental of the building is what makes the Hinckley Chapter the only revenue producing club.

“Over the years, ownership may have changed but our mission remains the same,” said Biesiada. “This is a service club made up of men and women working together to make our communities a better place to live through programs of service in Americanism, Community
Service, Youth Activities, and its’ national project, the Prevention of Child Abuse and helping veterans.”

Currently, an order has been placed to install all new windows since the windows in the cabin  have been stuck shut for years. Handicapped-accessible projects include the purchase of two ovens for the kitchen, one of which will be handicapped accessible. Both ovens have already been installed.

An automated electronic defibrillator is also on order.

Another project on the horizon includes the construction of a new accessway between the cabin and the pavilion, which also will be handicapped-accessible. Concrete improvements will also be made in early 2024.

“So many will benefit from these improvements,” said Biesiada. “Anyone can rent the facilities and it is frequently used by scouting groups, families for things like family reunions and showers, veterans groups and by safety groups such as the Cleveland SWAT team and US Marshals for training purposes. The annual Hinckley Car Club show is also held on the grounds.”

The facility current rents for $500 on weekends, which includes Friday, Saturday and Sunday as there are no one-day rentals on weekends, and $175 for weekdays. Biesiada said those interested in booking the facility need to do a year ahead of time to ensure a weekend rental. Weekday rentals are more easily obtained. For reservations call 330-273-1556.

Fundraising events throughout the year allow the operation and maintenance of the cabin and to support the club’s mission. On slate for next month is the club’s annual pig roast, which take place on Saturday, Oct. 7. Tickets are available at a cost of $30 each. There are also various off-site fund raisers.

What you might call a “stellar” event is coming next spring as the club will host Eclipsefest, a in conjunction with the total solar eclipse that will occur on April 8. Organizer Dan Mazur said information on the event can be found anytime at the website Eclipsefest.Info.

“This is four-day event beginning the afternoon of Thursday, April 4,” said Mazur. “The cost for the four days is $275 per adult (no pets). Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and breakfast and lunch on Monday. Those participating will need to provide their own tents as the bunkhouse will not be available for sleeping. There will be live entertainment and other events. ∞

Through a grant from the Park Foundation, the Brooklyn Exchange Club will be able
to make many improvements to its cabin, located at 2400 State Rd. in the Hinckley
Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. Photos by C. Studor.

The club, including Tom Biesiada, Dan Mazur, Jim Burns and Jim Fordosi, used a
portion of the grant funding to purchase two new stoves, one of which is handicapped accessible. Other additions include all new windows, an AED and handicapped-accessible accessways. Photo by C. Studor.

On our cover (photo): The Brooklyn Exchange Cabin in the Hinckley Reservation is often referred to as “Hinckley’s Best Kept Secret.” Through a generous grant from the Park Foundation, many improvements will be made to the cabin in 2024. Pictured are President-elect Dan Mazur, current Club President Tom Biesiada, and club members Jim Burns and Jim Fordosi. Photo by C. Studor.