Three years after a fire destroyed the interior of the nature center at Findley State Park in Wellington, the revamped walls within will soon be unveiled to the public.
In April, the park received $180,000 from the state to reconstruct the inside and roof of the building.
Park manager Bridget Derrick said the park contributed $3,000 from its operating funds to purchase white oak from the Zaleski State Forest for two of the walls.
An electrical fire broke out overnight in August 2012 and nearly all of the contents inside were lost, including fish and snakes. A few chairs and a kayak were some of the only items that were salvageable.
“The state fire marshal ruled it electrical from either a heating lamp on the snake or the power strip it was plugged in to,” Park Manager Bridget Derrick said. “He couldn’t determine which one was the faulty one.”
The building itself was found to be structurally sound, but a few joists in the ceiling needed to be addressed.
Troy Psurny, project manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, took the lead on the project after the new HVAC system and roof was installed.
Psurny said he received the notice to proceed in April. The nature center was finished in mid-August.
Everything from the restrooms to the kitchen to the drywall and even windows are all brand new inside the 2,420-square-foot space.
One of the biggest differences with the new building is that it won’t be used solely for education. Half of the nature center will be used for retail space. Derrick said ice cream and pizza will be sold, as well as sweatshirts and other Findley State Park apparel.
Derrick said a ribbon cutting ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 23, but the nature center will be open for a limited time this Saturday to campers participating in the Halloween Campout.
After the ribbon cutting ceremony, the nature center will be open to all of Findley’s visitors.
“We’re really excited,” Derrick said. “Once they got started it really came together quickly.”
Psurny said a shade structure will be added to the southwest side of the building in the future. He hasn’t put it our for bid yet, but the state will be picking up that cost as well.
Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.
Photos by Kelsey Leyva | Wellington Enterprise
One side of the new nature center at Findley State Park is dedicated to naturalist Roger Nikiforow and will be used for educational purposes.