Due to significant declines in attendance, ongoing lifeguard staffing challenges and other concerns, the Board of Park Commissioners has determined that Summit Metro Parks will no longer operate its swim areas at Munroe Falls Metro Park and Silver Creek Metro Park. While we understand that this news may be difficult for some of our visitors, the park district is encouraged by the community’s passion and investment in the future of our parks.
As stewards of Summit County’s green spaces and your public dollars, Summit Metro Parks takes its responsibility to taxpayers very seriously. This decision allows the park district to focus its resources on amenities the public is more likely to use and enjoy.
As this chapter in the park district’s history closes, a new one opens. Although it is not feasible to keep the swim parks open, Summit Metro Parks wanted to learn more from the community about how they use these parks and would like to use them in the future. Through a formalized survey conducted in late December/early January, residents indicated a desire for additional trails and connections to multipurpose trails, environmental restoration, public events and family-friendly programming. Hiking and walking are the most popular activities at both parks, and new trails and trail connections are the most desired amenity. Plans are already in place for trails around both lakes, as well as new multipurpose trail connections, as many visitors also enjoy cycling in Summit Metro Parks.
Swimming has been a big part of the history of Summit Metro Parks, dating back to the 1940s and 1950s with swimming at Brushwood Lake in Furnace Run Metro Park and Virginia Kendall, which is now part of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Fifty years ago, going to a swim lake in the summer was the place to be. Hot summer days drew crowds of 10,000 to 15,000, and this trend continued for many years into the late 1990s.
As time passed, however, the community shifted toward backyard swimming pools and other chlorinated swimming options. In response to falling attendance due to the shift in public preference, the park district bolstered its cost-cutting efforts. We scaled back concessions offerings and adjusted our swim lake hours of operation to offset increasing costs that did not align with public demand. We increased our promotional efforts, offered free swim passes through community outreach and tried creative approaches to hiring lifeguard staff. Despite ongoing efforts over the course of many years, the combination of low attendance and staffing challenges has led to our need to reimagine a future without lake swimming.
As our community grows and evolves, we will evolve with it. The master planning process for Munroe Falls and Silver Creek is ongoing and we will continue to seek input and share information with the public. We look forward to a bright future for both of these parks!
Visit our Project Updates page to stay informed of the master planning process.