Friends of Crowell Hilaka would like to work with the Richfield Joint Recreation District in promoting Crowell Hilaka’s educational, historical, and recreational potential by continuing to raise awareness and funds, host volunteer and social events, and research the unique history and features of Crowell Hilaka.
FoCH views :
- A growing body of research shows that children are less likely to play outside and are less familiar with nature than in previous generations. People and organizations dedicated to outdoor education and recreation need to develop creative programs and proactive outreach to engage families.
- Proactive engagement costs more money. It would be good to consider ways for the property to generate revenue in addition to taxes. Some of this income could come from providing popular services and attractions.
- The unique, historical features of the Kirby estate should be promoted for tourism as well as education.
- While it is necessary for the RJRD to carefully consider its long term goals in making decisions, some of the desirable features of the property are at risk for damage due to lack of maintenance over the years. Therefore, we would like to get to work on identified projects sooner rather than later.
- Funding by FoCH will probably be for projects outside of the RJRD budget. We are happy to consider additional requests from the RJRD board.
- We acknowledge that the RJRD board is the sole authority in CH; FoCH is a support group.
- We would like to be considered for a space somewhere on the property
FoCH request to sponsor the following projects:
Maintenance of existing trails
We have been doing basic upkeep of trails – as permitted- from 2009. We would like to continue. We could also help with evaluating little-used trails , potential re-routing of Pine Lake Trail, new signage (especially for trails that get renamed), and additional bridges, walkways, and railings. Buckeye Trail and Ohio Horseman’s Council may have separate projects which we’d be happy to help with.
Restoration of native plant species
We began this effort in 2010. We would like to obtain state herbicide certification, and consult with advisory groups on best practices for control of buckthorn, bayberry, multi-flora rose, privet, etc. We would identify native species in affected areas and plant desirable native species. We would monitor the property to identify areas requiring remediation.
Garden restoration and maintenance
- Kirby House garden - west side of the house. Included a decorative pond and a collection of wildflowers. Remnants of the garden still exist and parts can be matched to historic photos. We recommend restoration for both historic and visual value.
- Spiff’s Garden - memorial woodland garden between Amity and North Houses. It has been maintained by the Pruitt family for 20+ years. We recommend continuing of current practice for historic and recreation value.
- Moss Garden on Deer Leap Trail. Not actually a garden, but a natural occurrence at the confluence of Sandy Creek into the main creek. Mostly needs to be pointed out so that it’s properly appreciated.
- Butterfly Garden at Mill meadow by sundial. Established in 1999 by Chelsea Griggs. Keep or possibly transfer up the hill to combine with Kirby garden?
- North House Garden – no longer exists as such. There are ruins of garden structures scattered in the woods behind the house. Some of the nearby groundcover (myrtle , pachysandra, lilies of the valley) may be from the Neals or may have been from GS. Large rhododendron in the woods is most likely from the Neals. Restoring this garden without original photos would be tough. Recommend leaving as is unless further evidence or funding turns up.
Permanent, interpretive signage in the Kirby estate.
Professional trailside signboards with historic imagery explaining Kirby’s work, the purpose of the mill, the patent on the lake, and construction of the bouncy house. The number of signs, placement, and text all subject to approval by RJRD board.
Maintaining the Nature Hut as an exhibit space for environmental education
The Nature Hut is a tiny building on the now defunct Windy Hill Trail. It is a single room with no plumbing or power. It can be seen above the main road between Kirby Garage and Garfield Hall. It was used as a trailside nature “museum”. Envisioning a few simple, self-guided displays and books for visitors. .
Feasibility study for moving the Oviatt Farmhouse to another site on the property
The Oviatt Farm House is by far the oldest structure on site and represents a significant part of Crowell Hilaka and Richfield history. But it needs to be demolished or moved because the Ohio Department of Natural Resources prohibits human habitation immediately downstream of the dam.
We would like to find out if the historical significance and the current condition of the house might make it worth the cost of moving it. If so, then we would need to work with the RJRD to consider potential nearby sites and projected uses. If it seemed like a good idea, and if there was no other immediate need for funding of the Kirby estate structures, then we would like to fundraise for the project.
Annual fundraisers that would allow FoCH to bring in funds from outside the tax base
Each event will be subject to prior review and approval by the RJRD board.
Volunteer Orientation and Education.
Provide the RJRD Board and Volunteers with information about the property and its history. Site tours can be customized for area of interest and difficulty of terrain.
Development of on-site educational/ recreational program proposals
For events hosted by RJRD as well as events sponsored by FoCH
Research into national standards, best practices, and state regulations for camping
If camping were ever permitted, there are two existing tent areas outside of the Clean Ohio zone:
1 ) Windy Hill - near the stables. Former platform tent site. Could be converted to car camping if desired. Probably best accessed from stable entrance, although with road repair could also be accessed by car from main Oviatt Rd. gate.
2 ) High Lea – near stables. Primitive (ground tent ) site. Shelter, kitchen, and outhouse all handicapped accessible