MKSK outlines vision for West Township Parks

CANTON — Representatives from urban planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm MKSK envision a more connected chain of urban parks in the West.

MKSK principal Matt Manda and partner Cullen Meves shared ideas for a more interconnected and engaging parks system last week at a special meeting of the Canton Parks Commission. The board took no action or comment from the public.

“As far as moving the process forward, today is a conversation,” Manda said. “It’s a first pass of the plan.”

Last year, the park‘s board selected MKSK to create a plan to improve the parks from Stadium Park in the north to West Park in the south. The three members—John “JR” Rinaldi, Maureen Austin, and Joseph Gerzina—approved $25,000 for the study and planned to seek additional funds from local foundations.

Manda and Meves reviewed the park‘s existing amenities and their initial analysis before asking for feedback on the latest plans. They included:

  • New park entrance gates from Fulton Road NW and near McKinley National Memorial entrance.
  • Areas within the parks focusing on themes such as events, exploration or history.
  • New mountain bike or walking trails, all-weather shelters and lighting in the wooded west side of stadium grounds.
  • Two pedestrian crossings – including one near the John Barker Spring House – on the eastern edge.
  • An event pavilion connected to the Garden Center.
  • A nature reserve on the former mother goose land, prone to flooding.
MKSK's Matt Manda (left) and Cullen Meves discuss suggestions for improvement Tuesday with the Canton Parks Commission.

Varying reactions to Canton’s park plans

Doug Foltz, Canton’s director of parks and recreation, said he didn’t “agree” with all the suggestions, such as moving the tennis courts from Stadium Park. However, he was enthusiastic about the pedestrian level crossings.

“I think that’s one of the most necessary things,” Foltz said.

Austin praised the proposed green aspects and the walkways between Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital and Stadium Park. She said the overall plan, however, seemed “ambitious” and expensive and asked MKSK to identify quick and easy projects.

“When the plan is further developed, as part of it, would you suggest some of these fruits at hand?” Austin asked.

Gerzina countered that a larger plan could generate more interest and funding from community foundations.

“You want to see who has an interest in doing what,” he said.

Manda said MKSK will refine the plan and have a follow-up discussion with board members about implementation and costs. The final plan will probably not be done for months.

“At the end of this process, you will have this booklet, which will summarize all of our work to date and our process on how we arrived at the decisions we have,” Manda told the board.

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