Partnerships in Action: Summit Metro Parks engages with Summit Lake

April 25, 2017
By Bob Downing

Summit Metro Parks is getting involved in a big way in Akron’s Summit Lake neighborhood. It will soon be adding benches, picnic tables, a picnic shelter, water fountains and perhaps a small fishing pier at Summit Lake in South Akron. It will be moving one staffer, Demetrius Lambert-Falconer, and hiring two additional seasonal staffers to Summit Lake to present nature programs at the REACH Opportunity Center. It will act as a satellite nature center for the park district that has two permanent nature centers: in North Akron and in Twinsburg.

The park district is working with the city of Akron to screen free family outdoor movies at Summit Lake and to present nature programs for families. “We’ve never done anything like this before,” said Lisa King, executive director of Summit Metro Parks. Her district is aided by a $320,000 Akron Civic Commons grant to do work in the Summit Lake neighborhood. About $50,000 will be spent to design needed improvements and that plan should be unveiled by mid-May, King said. About $200,000 will spent on the improvements; things like benches, picnic tables, grills, picnic shelter, a fire pit and fishing pier are all in the mix. Three groups of benches are planned in the area between the Summit Lake Community Center and the lake and the shelter would be an open-air facility, King said.

About $70,000 will be spent on the two seasonal sites and creating a nature center space with exhibits rented within the REACH Opportunity Center, King mentioned. Adding nature education at Summit Lake will meet a big need in the neighborhood. The park district is also looking at staging several programs this summer at the Park East neighborhood.

The park district is very willing to become more involved at Summit Lake, but it has not had any discussions about creating a new park, according to King. “That’s not on the radar at all,” she said. The park district is also working to help design kiosks that can be placed in the Summit Lake neighborhood. King mentioned that she was turning to park staffer Mark Avery on that end,  whom she said “can design and build almost anything.”

King envisions two or three kiosks being built this year–with additional kiosks being added later. The kiosks would provide bulletin board space for community announcements, and would also offer shelves for books and fresh produce from gardens that can be shared with neighbors. They might also serve as Wi-Fi hubs to serve the neighborhood.