Park district receives $60,000 grant

by Sue Serdinak

Dec. 5 RJRD meeting

Mike Selig, vice chairman of the Richfield Joint Recreation District board and chair of the grant-writing committee, reported that the RJRD has been awarded a $60,000 NatureWorks Grant to be used to replace the metal bridge that spans the spillway of Lake Linnea, the upper lake, in Richfield Heritage Preserve.

Selig said the district is required to provide a 25% match, but the payment can be made through in-kind work.

This is the second time the committee has applied for the grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which is funded by a 1993 Ohio Parks and Natural Resources bond issue. The first try was unsuccessful.

Selig said the committee is also hoping to apply for a capital grant from the state and grants from the Cleveland Foundation.

Save America’s Treasure Grant

The Friends of the Richfield Heritage Preserve asked the board’s approval to apply for a $125,000 grant from the National Park Service. The Save America’s Treasures Grant would be used to restore Kirby’s Mill.

Friends historian Lynn Richardson said the group has $125,000 in matching funds, required to apply for the grant. However, none of that money can be used before August, when there will be a notification of the grant.

Board member Holly Price asked if the Friends have funds to maintain the mill until August, and Richardson said they do.

The Friends have already restored supporting structures on the mill, including the water wheel, and would use the funds to complete the project and make it an educational center.

Champion structure

The Friends submitted a letter of intent requesting to be a Champion of the Kirby House. RJRD Chairperson Anita Gantner proposed the Kirby House be removed from the list of buildings that can be championed and consider that the park district restore it. 

“I’ve given a lot of thought to the Kirby House,’’ she said. “If it would be possible to save the now century home … what use would it be put. … It could be a fabulous visitors center in the heart of the park.”

She added that it could include tributes to Kirby’s work, tributes to former inhabitants of the property: the Girls Scouts, the Neal family and with some digging, some Native American occupants. Offices of the RJRD could be there.

“I’d like to propose that Kirby be taken off the Champion list of structures and moved to be an RJRD project as Amity was,’’ Gantner said. “We don’t currently have funds to take on a rehab. The moneys would have to be gotten from grants. If the Friends were interested in helping with the project, we would consider that option.”

Said Selig, “I agree that trying to find a use is important, the only pause that I have is not having funding to do the rehabilitation and moving forward with any of the work. I don’t see any harm in keeping it in the Champion program.”

Price agreed, saying, “Funding is extremely important. Also, I don’t recall anything with a visitors center in the strategic plan.”

“Given the funding situation, I agree,” said board member Mike Lyons. “This could evolve into a joint project. … If we’re going to consider this, we would consider the nature of the building.”

Board member and treasurer Dave Wehner said, “My mind goes to the cost of making it into an office. I don’t see how funds are available to even consider that.”

Board member Steve McPeake agreed.

Gantner countered, “If we could get help from the Friends to do something like Amity, it would be lovely.”

Wehner said he was not prepared to approve the Friends’ letter of intent for the building because it had not been included on the agenda for the meeting.  However, the board approved the Friends letter of intent with Wehner abstaining. The approval stipulated there would be no possibility of renting the structure.

The letter of intent only gives the Friends the right to apply to Champion the building. The application requires a complete description of the plans, costs and time frame.


Lyons reviewed the board’s bylaws and recommended removing a clause that subjected them to a three-day review by the village and township. Lyons recommended the change because the board operates independently of both entities. Although he thought the bylaws could be approved at this meeting, Price said she would like to have more time to review them.


Volunteer Coordinator Susan Czaplicki reported that Brecksville Scout Troop 175, volunteers from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management and students from Revere, Highland and Brecksville high schools worked at the park in November.

Shari Green reported that four weddings and three corporate events were booked for the Lodge in November. She also said that 54 events have been booked for 2024 and 2025.

After the meeting, Wehner said for the calendar year the Lodge earned a net surplus of about $56,000 on about $149,000 in revenue through November.

Corey Ringle reported that The Friends received a $5,000 grant from the Akron Community Foundation William Wallace Fund.

The Friends removed the mill wheel observation deck and replaced it. They continued work on the exterior of the Amity House, awaiting permits for the interior work. They replaced the Juliet balcony and the damaged window trim and repaired and painted the porch posts. ∞