Residents gathered at City Hall to hear about the proposed plan to add another recreational opportunity in North Royalton. Mayor Bob Stefanik, Community Development Director Tom Jordan, and Cleveland Metroparks Officials presented proposed plans for the Elek Spring property.
The City of North Royalton is partnering with the Cleveland Metroparks on the project, which will ultimately link the city-owned Elek Park property to the Metroparks. Elek Spring is located near the area of Royalton and Bennett Roads. “The Cleveland Metroparks is under contract for the approximately 3.1-acre property at 14702 Bennett Road. The property is adjacent to an all-purpose trail that runs along the western side of Bennett Road south to Akins Road and an additional future trail to be constructed by the City of North Royalton would provide a connection from the 14702 Bennett Road property south to Brecksville Reservation and Valley Parkway. The property includes a natural spring and stream,” according to Metroparks official, Jeffrey Tolman. “We are set to close on the property on March 20, 2019.”
The City purchased the14.8 acre property in 2008, called the “Old A. Elek Spring Property”, located south of Rt. 82, west of Bennett Road and north of Akins Road. It was purchased for about $225,000, the money coming from the city’s recreation capital improvement fund, which was partially funded from a $200,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for recreation. At that time, Stefanik said that he would like to think of this area as likened to Cuyahoga Valley, with walking paths. He said that he much prefers this land use than having a developer put up more residential in that area. The area has a ravine and streams, as well as a natural spring. Two stone buildings, a small house and garage are also located on the property. There once was a pump house where spring water was sold in the mid-1900s. There are also some very old trees on the property.
Mayor Stefanik said that when the property was purchased, the Metroparks did a walk through of the property. The missing piece to the full utilization of the property would be needed in the form of the acquisition of an adjacent property in order to better access the park. The property on Bennett Road came up and allowed that to take place. This is one of many partnership projects the City has participated in with the Metroparks, such as Aukerman Park, the all purpose trail and 100’s of acres in the southern part of the city.

Jordan noted that the property did have an access point on Royalton Road but it was problematic. The purchase of the Bennett Road property will now give the park a more natural access point.
Isaac Smith, Conservation Program Manager for the Metroparks, said that the project allows for connectivity of the Brecksville Reservation to North Royalton. The Brecksville Reservation is the largest reservation in the Metroparks, with nearly 4,000 acres, he said.
Metropark Senior Strategic Park Planner, Kelly Coffman, said that the proposed plan will include a natural foot trail, which would be a couple of feet wide and would loop within the interior of the property, which will loop up to Royalton Road. She said that it would be about one half mile in length. The trail will be run closer to the middle of the property, in an effort to give those on the path the full experience of being in the woods by not seeing the backs of the abutting houses. It also allows for more privacy for those homeowners.
The next step is to raze the existing house on Bennett Road. At this point, it is not known if the pond that is on that property will stay, as well as the spring house that is located on the Elek Spring property. Once the house is razed, a small parking lot, which will accommodate about six cars, will be installed and the trail installed. The exact time line is not known at this time.
Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck is excited about the proposal. “This would be at least the third Metroparks project in my time as your representative, and every one has been high quality and a great addition to our community.”
Contributing Writer