Findley State Park’s nature center will soon start welcoming visitors again.
After an August 2012 electrical fire that nearly destroyed the entire building, the park has completed its restoration process and plans on reopening it to the public starting in May.
“The tentative plan right now is weekends in May,” said park manager Bridget Derrick. “We all couldn’t be happier with the job done by J&F Construction on the building.”
An official unveiling of the repairs was held in October 2015 with additions that include a retail area and pizza counter.
The building was originally opened in 1968, then privately leased out until being turned into a nature center in 2001. A game room was also part of the structure before being removed in 2010.
“A retail space will allow us to utilize the building for at least three seasons each year,” said Derrick. “We’re open year-round for camping, and many people don’t know that. Keeping the nature center open from May to around November will make things even more enjoyable for our campers.”
Repairs took place from February to September of last year, a process expedited by state funds and generous local donations.
“This was all made possible through Ohio’s capital improvement fund,” Derrick said. “The state has done a great job in allocating money to parks when it has been needed. Russell Sword of New London and many others have gone out of their way to donate to us as well. The governor and state legislature have set aside about $88 million dollars for Ohio’s parks.”
According to Derrick, a number of snakes in the nature center during the fire unfortunately did not survive.
A tortoise, however, did make it through despite being badly burned. The tortoise is now happy, healthy, and living with an EMT who responded to the fire.
“It’s been a long road but we’re ready to officially kick off our season Memorial Day weekend and put this process behind us,” she said.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Donations and state funding have sped up the process of reopening the Findley State Park nature center. Park-goers can expect a nature center that offers more and is open longer throughout the year.