New sledding hill dedicated

by Dan Holland

Mayor Michael Wheeler, Councilperson Bobbie Beshara and the staff of the Richfield Village Planning and Zoning Department hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 21 to dedicate a 25-foot-high sledding hill at the new Babb’s Orchard Park located at Broadview and Hawkins roads.

The hill is a key component of the 13.3-acre park, which will feature walking trails, picnic areas, a pavilion, fire pit, play area, a stocked fishing pond and other amenities on the former site of Babb’s Apple Orchard.

Developer Sam Petros donated 8.5 acres of the land to the village in 2017 with the stipulation that he be allowed to dump soil at the site from construction projects. The Labalzo family donated the remaining 4.8 acres, which includes a fishing pond. Both Petros and Michael Labalzo were honored with proclamations during the event, with Dec. 21 being recognized as “Sam Petros Day” in Richfield Village.

Discussions on developing the park began in 2015, according to Beshara, who was mayor at the time.

“This is such a nice thing to have in our community; not often do you see a sledding hill in a community come to fruition,” said Beshara. “We’re just so proud to be here eight years later being able to dedicate it just so the kids can have some fun in the wintertime. This park will be really beautiful when it’s all done.”

“It is really Bobbie Beshara’s project; I just happened to be mayor when it opened,” added Wheeler.

Petros, whose company graded, packed and seeded the hill, complimented village leaders on their vision. “It’s an obvious result of cooperation between the village and private industry, and the end result of it is a great sledding hill for everyone to enjoy,” he said. “I thought it was a lot of foresight on the part of the village leaders to see this through.”

A 2025 completion date is expected for the park, with an estimated total cost of $275,00 according to Wheeler.

 “The sledding hill is part of a pocket park that offers an opportunity for children and their families to come out and spend time here and recreate,” said Planning and Zoning Director Brian Frantz. “The sledding hill is an active recreation, and the passive recreation is available in the fully stocked fishing pond. The service department did a great job of building a fire pit, and we stock it with wood. So, families can come out this winter, make a fire and enjoy a weekend or evening of hanging out and sledding.” ∞

Planning and Zoning Director Brian Frantz and Amy Nauer, the assistant to the director, try out the hill after the ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by D. Holland.

On our cover (photo): Michael Labalzo, Councilperson Bobbie Beshara, Mayor Michael Wheeler and developer Sam Petros cut the ribbon on the sledding hill on Broadview Road on Dec. 21. A fence and straw bales surrounded the hill and some children brought their sleds to try it out on opening day. Photo by D. Holland. Proclamations of thanks were presented to Michael Labalzo and Sam Petros for their donations of land to the village. Shown are Labalzo, Mayor Michael Wheeler, Sam Petros and Councilperson Bobbie Beshara.