Claire Merrick, Marketing & Public Relations Manager
On September 8, Summit Metro Parks welcomed visitors for the Valley View River Celebration and ribbon cutting. This important day commemorated years of effort, collaboration and partnership for park district staff, the local community, and state and national organizations, resulting in an extraordinary parkland for all to enjoy.
Once fully developed, Valley View will boast public access to the Cuyahoga River, the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and connection to more than 150 miles of hiking trails. The historic site has a rich and detailed history dating back to the pre-contact era, when local Indigenous peoples frequented the area for its abundant natural resources. From the mid-1800s to the 1950s, the Himelright family owned and operated a dairy farm there. Since then, the property has undergone significant changes — first as Valley View Golf Club, then into a renewed space primed for new life once it was acquired by the park district in 2016.
An extensive, state-of-the-art ecological restoration project has reestablished wetlands, planted trees and created verdant native meadows. Non-native and invasive species were removed and replaced with a more natural landscape to better support a diverse array of wildlife. The work on the land, wetlands and streams is illustrated by flowers such as bidens, which cover large areas with their cheery yellow hue, that attract flutters of monarchs who feed on their nectar.
Following land restoration came river restoration, with nearly one mile of floodplain excavation and instream habitat improvements for fish and aquatic wildlife. In just a few short years, extremely positive biological improvements have been documented. In spring of 2022, monitoring results showed that the total number of fish and the variety of fish species recorded for this one-mile stretch has increased significantly. We’re also now seeing large numbers of sensitive species which are good indicators of improved water quality. Additionally, wildlife has rebounded in the entire area — bald eagles, green herons, spotted sandpipers and common mergansers are now resident species of the site. A 2021 citizen science survey noted over 500 species of plants and wildlife! And, as time goes on, results will only continue to improve.
Future plans for this remarkable site include construction of a River House adjacent to the river. This structure will include restrooms and a protected gathering space, while offering additional river access with a kayak and canoe put-in.
Whether you’re looking to find solace in nature, celebrate a happy occasion with loved ones at the restored Himelright Lodge, enjoy a paddle down the Cuyahoga River or simply bask in the views of the public art displays that welcome visitors, we invite you to stop by and appreciate all that Valley View has to offer.