Partner Picnic Celebrates Updates to Summit Lake

August 20, 2017
By Bob Downing

Long-time neighborhood activist Shirley Finney really likes what’s happening at Summit Lake. “I love it,” she said repeatedly at the August 17th community picnic that drew 70 people to the area. Her only suggestion to Summit Metro Parks is that a third swing might be needed along the lake’s eastern shoreline near the Summit Lake Community Center.

The park district constructed two already-popular wooden swings at the edge of the lake and installed benches, picnic tables, grills and a giant white canopy-tent. It also cleared brush from the edge of the lake and installed rocks and sand to stabilize the shoreline and into the water. Rocks and tree trunks were also added to the playground, and a new nature center just recently began operations at Summit Lake as well.


Residents relax in swings at Summit Lake
Photo by Bob Downing


The 69-year-old Finney said the Summit Lake neighborhood has been fighting to improve for 20 years, and she was more impressed that others have gotten involved in the latest effort to help the neighborhood. That includes partners like the City of Akron, Summit Metro Parks, community groups and the Akron Civic Commons itself.

“I wanted to see something from them, and they showed us what could be done. It was more than talk. It was action. It was them giving something back,” she said. “They did what they said they were going to do. That means a lot. It’s beautiful. It’s a big change. It was needed. And it’s going to help.”

She also challenged others in the Summit Lake neighborhood to get involved and to help make a difference. “We need to see you [at monthly meetings]. You need to support us. Join us now,” said Finney, who has been active in the Summit Lake Neighborhood Association. “This is ours,” she said of the improvements. “It’s our Summit Lake. Support us.”

Others also liked what they were seeing at Summit Lake. “The swings. I love the swings. They are nice,” said Angelo Union, 27, who has lived in the Summit Lake neighborhood for about two years. Having a gazebo-tent to provide shelter from stormy weather is a major addition, he said. A second gazebo or tent might be a desirable addition, he also added.

Neighborhood newcomer Joemane Solomon, 41, said he was thrilled to see grills provided in the new picnic area at Summit Lake. “That is going to make this area even more attractive,” he said. As a result, several people at the picnic urged Summit Metro Parks to build a permanent gazebo at Summit Lake.


Ms. Finney addresses fellow Summit Lake residents.
Photo by Bob Downing


Dan Rice, president and CEO of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, said the groups involved in the improvements at Summit Lake want feedback in the coming months from the community on what’s been installed and how those additions might be improved and perhaps made permanent. He also asked those at the Summit Lake picnic for their help in maintaining the new facilities. The community needs to be a co-steward of what’s been added, he said.

He encouraged residents to pick up litter when they see it to keep the park clean and attractive and to report any damage to the facilities. “This is your space,” he said. “We need your help to make this the greatest space.”

Still, there remains one unresolved issue at Summit Lake, according to Finney. That’s the numerous Canada geese and their droppings. Signs telling lake visitors not to feed the geese and steps to control the geese population would be helpful and might reduce the problem, she suggested. “There are no easy answers for that one,” she said with a laugh.