Ideas for what will become of the old McCormick Middle School property on South Main Street were thrown around Monday evening in the the newly-appointed park planning committee’s fist meeting.
Wellington mayor Hans Schneider said June 2018 will be the target date to dedicate the park as part of Wellington’s bicentennial celebration, but doesn’t expect the project to be completed by then.
“We want to take our ideas and get them to a professional planner to put on paper,” he said. “The overwhelming consensus seems to be a passive, neighborhood, low-maintenance park.”
Schneider cited Oberlin’s Tappan Square as a good example of a passive park, or one that features natural attractions rather than sports facilities like Wellington Community Park on Johns Street.
“Many of our students have to go to Tappan Square for leaf projects, so it’d be great if we could plant trees here to save them that trip,” he said.
A naming contest will be opened online sometime within the next year.
Schneider added that he’d like to see large events such as the village farmers market and summer music acts move back to the McCormick site after using Howk Memorial Park in front of village hall last year.
Committee member Tim Simonson voiced a bit of opposition to that idea.
“The square is great for the Fourth of July and it’s used because the surrounding ambiance is so good,” he said. “Why have a park there if we’re not going to use it? The square was left to us by the Howks to use for community events.”
“I’d rather listen to concerts a little farther away from the train tracks,” replied fellow committee and village council member Sandy Denes.
The old McCormick sign, surrounding fence, and playground swing set will be removed, with the jungle gym’s status still to be decided. Any trees found to be dedicated to a cause or memory of a loved one will be preserved as long as they’re in good health, Schneider said.
Village manager Steve Dupee said the committee should think of parents taking kids to the park before deciding to remove all playground equipment.
Funding for the entirety of the revamp is still to be determined, but a representative from THRIVE! Southern Lorain County said the group is ready to commit about $20,000.
Another project goal will be installing at least one “historically styled” building to house restrooms and storage for large events. Those facilities, though, will not be open to the public outside of sanctioned times.
Due to concerns with vandalism, the Wellington police have asked that surveillance cameras be installed at the site and that parking in the site’s 6o spaces be banned during overnight hours.
All in attendance spoke of adding “curb appeal” to the park that will easily attract passers by.
“It needs to grab people,” said Gene Hartman, who also serves on both the committee and village council. “It needs to be something anyone will notice, even those who aren’t Wellington residents.”
The committee will continue to meet the first and third Monday of every month. Meetings are open to the public.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.