By Paul Palagyi, Executive Director
Over the past ten years, Lake Metroparks has made many improvements to park properties and updated several park rules to allow more access to property owned by the public and managed by Lake Metroparks. These improvements have allowed more Lake County residents to enjoy the amazing natural resources that we have here in Lake County—visitation to the parks has increased by more than 50 percent in the last ten years. In addition to building more than 11 miles of new trails, opening eight new park properties to public access, constructing ten new shelters and installing seven new flush restrooms, the park district has also extended the hours of operation in most parks and changed the park rules to allow visitors to leave the park trails and freely explore their parks. Lake Metroparks also constructed two new amenities on the shores of Lake Erie—the observation tower at Lake Erie Bluffs and the pier at Painesville Township Park. These two projects provide visitors the opportunity to see and interact with the greatest natural resource in the county—Lake Erie. Special steps were also taken to specifically help seniors enjoy their parks, including the construction of a boardwalk along the beach in Fairport and the paving of two ADA-accessible trails.
All of these changes and improvements were particularly important during the past 18 months when so many other public entertainment options were limited. In the first year of the pandemic, more than 690,000 more people enjoyed all manner of activities in their parks, resulting in a record-setting visitation level that topped four million visits for the first time in Lake Metroparks’ history.