Rendering of the future Summit Lake Nature Center (please note some details may change).

Summit Lake Nature Center takes shape with construction, indoor exhibit work underway

The future Summit Lake Nature Center is beginning to bloom at the former pump house building along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in Akron. Construction and interior design as well as interpretive exhibit planning is underway this summer, with an anticipated grand opening in early 2021.

“After the successful pilot of a nature center with educational programming developed based on feedback we received from the community, we are thrilled to expand our presence in the Summit Lake neighborhood and to connect people with nature in new ways in Summit County,” said Executive Director Lisa King.

A December 2018 photo shows the pump house building which will house the future Summit Lake Nature Center.
Exterior improvements are underway on the pump house building (June 2020).

Building construction began early this year. Work is expected to be complete in August and includes updates to the building’s windows, door(s) and roof as well as the installation of an elevator to provide accessibility. Plans for the first floor include a large gathering space with 14-foot high ceilings and restrooms. The second floor will include a kitchenette and a large area for interpretive programs with expansive views of Summit Lake. Akron-based designer Hazel Tree Interiors will implement interior design for the space.

Summit Metro Parks Chief of Planning Nick Moskos is managing building construction for the project.

Additionally, planning is underway for interpretive exhibits. Summit Metro Parks is working with Tessellate/EXPLUS to bring to the community educational and engaging exhibits that tell the story of the site’s cultural past and highlight its natural history. Initial concepts include a welcome desk, ample seating and gallery-style displays, as well as live educational animals.

Summit Metro Parks Chief of Community Engagement Demetrius Lambert-Falconer oversees the development of interpretive exhibits for the new nature center.
Summit Metro Parks will continue to offer a variety of nature-based educational and recreational programming out of the new Summit Lake Nature Center.

The pump house building was donated to the park district by the City of Akron, and its development has been made possible thanks to generous in-kind services and grant funding. Funders include the Akron Community Foundation, DuPont Clear into the Future Grant Program, Great Lakes Construction, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Sisler McFawn Foundation, Summit County Land Bank Community Development Matching Fund Grant Program and an anonymous private donor. The park district will continue to compete for additional grant funding to offset project costs.

Equipment from the former pump house will be repurposed at the new nature center to help educate visitors about the building’s past.

Summit Metro Parks manages 14,000 acres, 16 parks and more than 150 miles of trails. Find more at www.summitmetroparks.org.