Elevating services, lowering costs: Relocating the park district’s Central Maintenance Facility

Summit Metro Parks
4 min readJan 3, 2024

Claire Merrick, Marketing and Public Relations Manager

The newly acquired building on S. Broadway St. will be renovated to become the Central Maintenance Facility.

Summit Metro Parks has taken an innovative and sustainable approach to enhance its services to the community while saving taxpayer dollars. After careful consideration, the park district recently acquired a property in downtown Akron (465 and 505 S. Broadway St.) to serve as its Central Maintenance Facility. This decision not only addresses challenges posed by its current maintenance facility, but also offers numerous advantages to both the park district and its visitors.

The Current Maintenance Complex: A Century-Old Challenge

The park district’s current maintenance complex along Sand Run Parkway has been in operation for nearly a century. Over the years, it has become increasingly inadequate to support the growing demands of the park district. Since the facility’s last expansion in 1990, both the maintenance center’s staff and the park district’s acreage have doubled in size. Unfortunately, additional expansion is not an option due to lack of space at the current location.

Construction for the current facility’s last expansion in 1990

The facility has also been grappling with structural concerns for almost 15 years. Unfortunately, the necessary repairs would prevent park staff from using a vehicle lift for maintenance, a key function of the facility. This longstanding problem necessitated a fresh approach to better serve the community.

An exterior crack (left) and interior ceiling crack (right) at the existing facility indicate wall movement. Some cracks have increased in size over time.

Repurposing the Downtown Akron Property: A Cost-Effective & Sustainable Solution

After extensive analysis, Summit Metro Parks determined that repurposing an existing building in downtown Akron was the most fiscally and environmentally responsible move to ensure smart investment of taxpayer dollars. The park district previously planned to build a new facility on Wyoga Lake Rd. in Stow, having purchased property there in 2019. Since then, construction costs have increased significantly. By rehabilitating the downtown property instead of constructing a new facility, the park district is projected to save taxpayers approximately $12 million.

Summit Metro Parks has a long track record of dedication to stewarding public funds responsibly. Recently, the park district saved Summit County taxpayers nearly $8 million by securing funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the restoration and repair of Sand Run Parkway ($4.6 million) and restoration of the Cuyahoga River at the Valley View Area ($3 million).

Benefits of the Move

The decision to relocate maintenance center operations comes with a host of benefits for the park district and the public:

Improved maintenance: The new facility will enable in-house servicing of all 160+ park district fleet and equipment, protecting them from the elements and ensuring efficient maintenance.

Environmental responsibility: Summit Metro Parks is committed to green building standards, and both the new location and updates to the previous building will adhere to eco-friendly practices.

Enhanced public amenities: The move includes plans for a new flush restroom and parking area near the popular Jogging Trail and Sand Run Parkway.

Preparation for the future: This move allows SMP to meet current needs while responsibly preparing for future growth of the park district.

Economic growth: The positioning of nearly 30 workers in downtown Akron will contribute to the local economy and community development.

A Property Suited for Purpose

The acquired property boasts 44,000 square feet of indoor space on 4.5 acres of land, making it ideal for accommodating all district-wide maintenance center functions, including:

  • Fleet management, repairs and maintenance
  • In-house construction services, such as building renovations, shelters, trail construction, roofing and painting
  • Building trades, such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing and carpentry
  • Fabrication of materials, including signage, railings and kiosks
  • Roadway and parking lot maintenance, including snow and ice control, paving and striping
  • Forestry operations

Its central location within the county, access to major roads, maintenance access to Freedom Trail, existing utilities and zoning for commercial use further solidify its suitability.

The Future of the Previous Facility

While the current building on Sand Run Parkway will no longer serve as a maintenance center, it will be refurbished to safely house other vital park functions. These include maintenance crews for Sand Run, Hampton Hills & O’Neil Woods Metro Parks, conservation staff, shipping and receiving, and document retention. This repurposing ensures that the facility remains an asset to the park district and the community.

The existing complex has been the site for park district operations for nearly 100 years.

The decision to repurpose a property in downtown Akron for the Central Maintenance Facility exemplifies a forward-thinking approach that benefits both the community and the environment. By choosing sustainability and cost-effectiveness, Summit Metro Parks ensures that its services remain accessible, efficient and responsive to the needs of Summit County residents.



Summit Metro Parks

Summit Metro Parks manages 15,000 acres, 16 parks, three nature centers and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at www.summitmetroparks.org.