Jerusalem Township trustees are seeking volunteers to help develop the John T. Kennedy Park, dedicated 12 years ago in memory of a firefighter who died in the line of duty.
The park, located just east of Town Hall on the north side of Jerusalem Road, was once a 60 acre farm. Thirty acres are now parkland, and the remaining property is used for the township’s salt shed and recycling station.
“It’s in its infancy stage,” said Trustee Joe Kiss. “Right now, there are cut paths for walking and wildlife habitat. It’s a poorly tiled field, with whatever water is left there after it rains. We haven’t farmed it in many years.”
Trustees haven’t done much with the park due to money issues, said Kiss.
“We’ve done very little, really, in 12 years. Money is always an issue. We’re trying to watch our spending, raise some money through some outside sources. I have a few things in the works to try and get some things donated through area businesses. We’re just trying now to get things moving with it,” he said.
|Janis Kennedy, widow of John T. Kennedy, stands at the center of the
sign surrounded by Mr. Kennedy's family at the township's dedication
of the park. (Photo courtesy of Janis Kennedy)
“Our goals are possibly to develop a wetlands, add benches, birdhouses, and picnic tables, and improve the walking and running trails,” he said.
The park will be passive, he added, and will not include baseball diamonds or other sports activities.
“This is not going to have a sports complex or anything like that. It’s for people to enjoy the scenic mother nature and wildlife setting. We have deer, rabbits, birds, and waterfowl back there. We have some trees out there, but we will be planting more as a long term goal,” said Kiss. “We’re going to start slowly, hopefully get the ball rolling, and get some community interest going. If somebody thinks they have something to donate to the park, we’ll find a use for it.”
Kiss hopes to get help from volunteers as well as in-kind services in developing the park.
“We need trees, bird houses, benches, picnic tables, and stones donated. Any type of labor or material we would love to see,” he said.
He has also made calls to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to find out what resources are available.
“They have all kinds of programs to develop wetlands, where they would take up the excavation work. If we leave the land as it is, they will do up the drawings. They will design the contours of the land to hold water from three inches to three feet of water in different spots and make it suitable for different types of wildlife. So I think the state will get more involved in the wetlands part of it,” said Kiss.
The development of a pond or small lake in the park would be desirable, said Kiss, but is too costly.
He said a small lake, like the one in Ranger Park, off Woodville Road in Northwood, would be ideal in the township.
“I would love to see a lake there but you get into bigger monies. I would love to see people go there and fish, too,” said Kiss. “We have plenty of ground to have a lake, or a pond and wetlands.”
Northwood a few years ago decided to develop the site into a park for fishing and walking trails. The Ohio Department of Transportation created the small lake after excavating the site while building the I-280 overpass years ago. Each year, the city adds more features to the passive park, which routinely attracts ducks.
“My hat goes off to Northwood for making that decision. I’ve watched the development of that park. I see people using it all the time. It’s a wonderful park.”
Twelve years ago, then-trustees Linda Rossler, John Hansen, and Ray Cedoz dedicated the park in memory of John Thomas Kennedy, a township firefighter who perished fighting a blaze at the Sunset Fireworks Company on State Route 2 on Oct. 17, 1976.
“He was the only firefighter the township ever lost in the line of duty,” said Kiss.
To volunteer, contact Kiss at 836-8921.