Below is the astonishing Article XXI of the by-laws they passed. I will highlight with bold print the ones that are most astonishing to me:
ARTICLE XXI ACTIVITIES
Subject to limitations and revisions by the Park Board, persons may partake of any activity within the Park which is expressly allowed by the Park District in its Constitution and Bylaws and/or Rules and Regulations.
Recreational activities may be permitted at present or in the future by the Board in designated areas and subject to any restrictions and limitations imposed by the Board for use as further defined within.
Recreational activities include but are not limited to:
All Terrain Vehicle Permits (Regulated ATV’s, Dirt Bikes, UTV’s)
Bocce Ball Courts
Construction (Carpentry, Earthwork, Excavating, Electrical, Masonry, Plumbing)
Fishing (Pond and Stream)
Forestry Practices (Timber Stand Improvement, Logging)
Gas and Oil Drilling
Excavation & Earthwork
Invasive Specie Control (Plant and Animal)
Maple Sugaring Operations
Nuisance Wildlife Trapping
Outdoor Cooking and Grilling
Prescribed Fire (Controlled Burns)
Ropes Course (High Ropes, Low Ropes, Zip Line)
Shelter Reservations (Birthdays, Weddings, Family Reunions, Special Occasions)
Special Events (Camps, Scouting Events)
Walking, Dog Walking, Walking an Accessible Trail with a Stroller or Wheelchair
You may notice that many of these are not "recreational activities." A very sloppy use of language! Some of the items in the list probably could be explained and justified (but all we have above is a list). And some of the items listed seem really out of bounds with the longtime goals of the park, expressed in their mission statement:
"The Geauga County Park District (Geauga Park District) was established in accordance with Section 1545 of the Ohio Revised Code. Geauga Park District was created to conserve, preserve and protect the natural resources of the State, including forests, fields, streams, lakes and wetlands, and the plants and animals which live in these habitats. The Mission of the Geauga Park District is to preserve, conserve, and protect the natural features of Geauga County and to provide outdoor recreational experiences to our residents . . . ."
The one that concerned me the most was "oil and gas drilling." My mind immediately translated that as "fracking." Think about the danger this would present to the Geauga aquifer that everyone in the county uses for drinking water! Think of the three important rivers that find their headwaters in Geauga County (Chagrin, Grand, and Cuyahoga) and the impact of fracking pollution on the drainages and on Lake Erie!
I was also worried about "firearms range," and "logging." Not to mention ATV trails in the park! These activities really contradicted their mission statement (and possibly the Ohio Revised Code). This was something to vigorously oppose, fight against. Many others saw it this way. Some brilliant, well-prepared people spoke out at the board meeting. In one case there was a loud, long standing ovation for the speaker. I hope the board heard and felt that!
I was amazed at how many people I recognized at the meeting. It made me feel a little better about Geauga County. There was Kathleen O'Neill Webb, Kathy Flora, Kathy Hanratty, the Whitright's, Bill Lestock, Michelle Rossman, Micki Long, and others. Extraordinary people, ready to fight for this park system.
I hope the Geauga Park Board heard them. And I hope they respond appropriately, first by changing their by-laws. And then living up to their longtime mission of protecting and preserving this extraordinary natural world we've been given in Geauga County.