News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Metro RTA


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


Northeast Ohio opts again for parkland over development
Multiple organizations and the Chagrin River will work to transform Aurora Golf Course into an Aurora park
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Senior Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
The Aurora Golf Course was a private country club until 2008
Courtesy of Urycki
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Another Northeast Ohio golf course has closed. 
One in South Euclid recently sold to become a shopping center. And another, in Lyndhurst, is being transformed into a park. Now the city of Aurora has come up with $4.7 million to buy the Aurora Golf Course.

The deal is happening only because a number of agencies around Ohio are working together to protect the Chagrin River. WKSU’s Mark Urycki has details.

Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:05)


You still have about a week to appeal to the Ohio Environmental Appeals Review Commission to stop the sale. But for now it looks like the Aurora Golf Course is no more. Aurora Mayor Dave Fisher says that's the reality.

 “It was never going to stay a golf course for a very long period of time. I think the owner of the property saw it as, ‘I’m going to sell it somehow.  Either I’m going to go through the preservation opportunity or I’m going to sell it to a developer.’”

Former Mayor Lynn McGill wanted to buy the private course and make it a city-owned course, but determine that wouldn't be viable. So he decided to preserve it as a 194-acre park.  And he had plenty of help.

The environmental group the Trust for Public Land got involved to come up with funding. Dave Vasarhelyi of the trust says it has now worked with Aurora on five projects.  He calls the city a model.

“They are the municipality within the state that has done the most ... protection of the watershed resources in their community.”

The money trail
Here’s where the story gets convoluted: To get the money, the Trust for Public Land went to the Ohio EPA, which went to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. The Sewer District borrowed money from the EPA for a separate project in Cuyahoga Heights, using the agency’s  revolving loan fund.  It’s sort of like money laundering, but it’s legal and for a good cause.  EPA spokesman Mike Settles explains:

“(By) receiving that loan and a low-interest loan, the sewer district agrees to sponsor a restoration program in the area and part of the interest money that sewer district would normally pay back to the revolving loan will instead be diverted over to the city of Aurora, so they can do this restoration project.”


Aurora will get $4.7 million, $3.9 million to buy the golf course, and the rest to pay for restoring the course to a natural state. 
“If someone was going to write me a check for $4 million," says Mayor Fisher, "I probably would not buy the Aurora Golf Course for preservation reasons. I would  spend it somewhere else in the city.”  

But the EPA money is tied to clean-water projects and the city’s only expense is $30,000 for closing costs. There are two country clubs within one mile of the Aurora Golf Course. The Aurora clubhouse, existing homes, and 11 other acres of the course will be kept for private development.


Mayor Fisher says he could have gone either way on this deal, but decided to support the vision of former Mayor McGill, who left office early due to illness.

“Some people believe preservation approach to the course takes away its manicured look and it may have a negative impact on their property values. And then there are other people who will say, 'Well, it’ll have a positive impact on my property value because nothing will ever be built there.'”

Water buffer and filter
Environmentalists worry that even residential development of that land would harm its ability to absorb rain water and filter out chemical runoff. 

Two miles of the Aurora Branch of the Chagrin River runs through the golf course, much of it through artificial channels and culverts. Dave Vasarhelyi says those will be removed, the land will be reforested, and a dam will be torn down – all to improve water quality.

“You have your associated herbicides and pesticides that were used extensively when it was a golf course but are used in somewhat large proportions in residential developments as well.  And those have  certainly an impact on the water quality.”

The fairways and greens will become meadows or woods; cart paths will become hike and bike trails.  All this will border the oldest bird sanctuary in Ohio -- the Aurora Preserve. Vasarhelyi says restoring land and rivers back to a natural state is the best job in the world. 

“There’s nothing like seeing a nice rainbow trout sitting in a pool that was once bulk-headed or dammed up and not supporting anything.” 

The work to turn the Aurora Golf Course into a city park is expected to commence this spring and be completed by the end of the year. 

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

A small group of tea party and Democrats protest at Kasich campaign stop
Enjoyed your excellent coverage of the statehouse for sometime now, never dreamed I'd be on. The feedback from people has been great. Thank you. Doris Adams

Top staffers are leaving the FitzGerald gubernatorial campaign
I's too bad that the dirt on Fitzgerald dug up by Kasich's operatives and publicized heavily by the Yellow Plain Dealer has caused the weak staffers of the Fitz...

Churches come together to welcome and include Gay Games athletes
Nicely done!!! A little known fact about the El Salvadoran and Columbian scholarships.. A big thank you to the Faith Community for their support of Gay Games 9....

What do Ohio farmers need to do to control Lake Erie problems?
This was a great article, thank you, Karen Schaefer. There was an error- Roger Wise is the past president of the Ohio Farmer's Union; not the Ohio Farm Bureau ...

Registration for the 2014 Gay Games ends Monday at midnight
Judy Benson and Sally Tatnall are loved and appreciated by all in our community and throughout the US for their untiring work for OLOC and for educating the com...

Like any family, the Gay Games has its generation gaps
Great article ... important perspective.

Gay Games rodeo: Changing stereotypes
Robin, Thank you for a fine piece of recorded history. This is history in the making; a gay, Asian man, one of the last bronc riders in IGRA, and Rodeo at Gay G...

Ohio lawmakers hold hearing on prison food problems
So you fine them..this has been going onand the law makers are aware of this issue.I have been told by many about the maggots and rotten food not fit for a dog ...

Interview with early Beatle Pete Best
"the Leshdu (?) Quartet.." Actually that's the Les Stewart Quartet. George Harrison was in that band at the same time as the Quarry Men.

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University