POLK — Ashland County Parks District celebrated Sunday the acquisition of its 20th park — 18-acres of mainly wooded land with ravines.
The district acquired the park, which will be called Hrouda Woods, through a partial donation from Debra and Benjamin Hrouda and a Clean Ohio Grant.
“Most of our parks that we have now have been acquired through this grant,” director of the Ashland County Park District Stephanie Featheringill said.
The Clean Ohio Grant funds 75% of the park appraisal value, and the sellers — the Hroudas — waived the other 25%, so the park did not have to match the remaining funds needed, Featheringill said.
The grant application total project cost was $140,950, and Clean Ohio provided 75% at $105,950, Featheringill said.
Park commissioners and staff, neighbors and the Hrouda family gathered Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the front of the park off Township Road 251 in Polk for a park dedication ceremony.
Benjamin Hrouda said his parents, Frank and Jo Hrouda, bought the property that is now Hrouda Woods in early 1980s. Benjamin Hrouda wanted to ensure the land was preserved as a natural area and said he was grateful the park district could now do so.
“This is exactly what we wanted,” Hrouda said, referring to him and his family.
Hrouda is also glad he was able to see the park acquisition. He has brain cancer, and said Sunday he felt his worries about the land’s future dissipate now that the land is in the park district’s hands.
“I’m so happy that I’m here to see it,” Hrouda said.
While the park district celebrated the park acquisition Sunday, the park is not yet open to the public.
In the coming months, the park district will be adding trails along the contour of the trees, and may add lumber steps and bridges in hilly areas, Featheringill said. She added the district will work to add these features into the existing landscape and minimize the clearing of woods.
“We’ll walk through it a few times, decide where the trails will go and then we actually start flagging the trail and walking that,” Featheringill said. “It’s a process, and it will really depend on the weather.”
Featheringill said there is a possibility the park could open later this fall, pending weather, but it is more likely to be open in the spring or summer of 2022. If the park district decides to put in stairs and bridges throughout the park, it will fund those additions with the levy passed last year.
The only alterations made to the acquired wooded area thus far has been clearing a section to make an approximate 6-car parking lot. Currently, there is a small building located at the front of the park that will be used for storage, but Featheringill said there is potential for it to eventually be open for public use, such as a location to hold meetings.
“(Hrouda Woods) is most similar to our park called Cool Springs, where there is a lot of hills, a lot of little streams, very interesting and different than many of our other parks,” Featheringill said.
Some hunting will likely be allowed at Hrouda Woods once it is opened to the public, Featheringill said, although no official decisions have been made yet.
“For example, it could be in the capacity of scheduled youth hunts only, all the way up to opening it up to bow season,” Featheringill said. “But, one factor we have to take into consideration is the nearby houses, so I’m not sure there will be gun hunting.”
There will not be fishing, as the park does not have a fishing pond, Featheringill said.
Out of Ashland County Parks District’s 20 parks, 18 are currently open to the public, while Hrouda Woods and another recently acquired park, Avian Acres Farm Park, have yet to be developed, Featheringill said.