June 27, 2016

Partly sunny

Fresh trails

MONTVILLE TWP. — During a sunny, early spring day, Montville Township trustee Ron Bischof stooped over to pick up a discarded water bottle.

“I treat it like my own backyard,” Bischof said, continuing to the next piece of trash left carelessly in Whitetail Park’s parking lot.

While the ongoing construction of Cobblestone Park, behind Ralph E. Waite Elementary School, is known to many Montville Township residents, Whitetail remains the township’s “best-kept secret,” according to Bischof.

The four-year-old park, located behind the Whitetail Subdivision on Poe Road, is no stranger to sports leagues — the Medina Soccer Association uses its fields regularly in the spring and summer.

But the park’s other amenities, including more than a mile of wooded trails, a covered pavilion and charcoal grill, also provide for the enjoyment of its scenic spaciousness.

Bischof says they are under-used, something he hopes will change as more people become aware of the park’s existence.

Bischof, who leads the township’s park efforts, was the master planner behind Whitetail’s design. On a walk through the park, he made it clear that it was not finished yet.

“People don’t like this,” he said, pointing to the view of the neighboring subdivision’s backyards. Eventually, he said, more trees will be planted to obscure the homes and further define the park.

Along the path winding through the woods, he pointed out several benches made and installed by local Eagle Scout groups.

“My wife thought this would be a nice place to sit,” Bischof said, gesturing toward a bench. “You can see that way, and that way,” he said, pointing down the path.

Procuring Eagle Scout-made benches was one of the ways Bischof offset the costs of the estimated $500,000 park.

Another five acres of land recently was granted to the township specifically to expand the park’s existing woodland trails. And as he seeks to install a playground unit near the pavilion, Bischof plans to raise the money through community donations instead of paying for it with the general fund.

Walking through the park, it is evident that if people do not yet flock, wildlife certainly does.

Mallard ducks swim in the pond by the park’s entrance, deer tracks are scattered along the ash trails, bats sleep in black boxes during the day, and blue bird houses dot different points of the paths. A cacophony of spring peepers chirp in the marshy woods.

Early in spring, small red buds already appeared on the flowering pear trees that encircle the basketball courts and concession stand.

Now all the park needs, Bischof said, is people to enjoy it.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com.