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Park sights, sounds no fun for neighbors
Park sights, sounds no fun for neighbors
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Residents living near Chardon Township Park called on Township Trustees last week to make it a little more neighborly.
Mentor Road residents Laurie Eierman and Heather Piwarski asked trustees to look at ways to screen lighting and control noise from the 14-acre park at the southwest corner of Auburn and Mentor roads.
"We're not against parks," Mrs. Eierman said. "We'd just like them to meet us halfway."
Mrs. Piwarski said her family moved into their home in 2004, about five years before the park was developed. What was once a pleasant view of a field from her deck has turned into views of a portable toilet, she said. Lights from the park spill onto her property, and there is "constant yelling, whistle blowing and screaming," she said. "The sound funnels right up my driveway."
She said there is little enforcement of the closing times at the park, and she has had to call the Geauga County Sheriff's Office about people being there after its closing time at dusk. Mrs. Piwarski said people were there that evening with their bright car shining in the direction of the playground and their screaming children.
"It's the noise more than anything," Mrs. Eierman said. "Those whistles in the summer, that's what drives me up a wall."
With summer coming, she said, it is likely to be noisy there until 9:30 or 10 p.m.
Mrs. Piwarski said the park's intrusion on their once peaceful home essentially constitutes a government taking of their property. "I'm unable to enjoy the peaceful nature of what my property once had," she said.
Township Trustee Charles Strazinsky said those were the first complaints trustees had heard from residents about the park. "It's been almost a year since the lights went up that we've had a complaint," he said. "We have to know these things to act on them."
Trustee Steven Borawski said the lights were installed after a series of vandalism incidents and a break-in at a storage shed. He said they've been effective in stopping about 99 percent of the vandalism.
Mrs. Piwarski said she did not know she would be living next to a park until construction began around 2009.
Mrs. Eierman said her home was built in 1990, and they would not have built there if they had known they would be next to a park.
Trees that had run along the park property and which would have provided some screening had to be removed after a windstorm damaged them, Trustee Michael Brown said. He said the township park committee is focused this year on planting more trees, which may provide some relief.
He asked that residents contact the Geauga County Sheriff's Department for violators of the park hours.
Mr. Borawski said the township will look into reducing the wattage of the lights at the park and at shields to direct the light away from homes.
Mrs. Eierman said she believed trees for screening would be a "big help" and that people who do not respect park rules should be banned from using it.
Mrs. Piwarski said she fears that the township's plans to provide electricity to a park pavilion would result in visitors using radios there, which would be another intrusion on the neighborhood.
James Schumann, a member of the township park committee, said residents were not made of aware of the park through surveys on their preferred amenities that went out to 1,700 homes before its construction. He said about 50 percent of the households responded. He said the mailer noted that the township was going to build the park on 14 acres off Auburn Road.
Resident Jane Kriz said the township is having problems now, because officials failed to gauge public support through a ballot issue, which she recommended before it was built.
Mr. Borawski said the township may not have gotten an accurate account of residents' feelings, because not all of them are registered to vote.
He said having a gate to close off the park entrance would be difficult to coordinate, because township workers are off the clock at closing time.
Resident Carl Henderson asked whether the township could enlist volunteers to handle opening and closing the gate. He said he would be willing to volunteer on a couple nights.
Mrs. Piwarski said she does not expect the township to remove the park, but she's heard there are plans for expansion and wants to know how nearby residents could be informed in advance of such plans.
Mr. Brown said there has been discussion of adding basketball and tennis courts, but the township lacks the funds to do that. "I don't see that in the cards in the immediate future," he said.
He said the township did not rush into developing the park, planning it for two years before any dirt was turned. He said the township took time to enact zoning rules for the park before it was developed.
Mr. Borawski said the township could erect an 8-foot fence to provide some immediate relief at little expense.
He asked that residents be patient and work with the township to make the park enjoyable for everyone.
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