Stark Parks, which includes 15 parks and 120 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails located around Canton, Ohio, recently opened a new visitor center at Fry Family Park with the help of several local foundations, including the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton. The visitor center features a wet lab, library, and various indoor and outdoor spaces for educational activities and community events.
The Repository was there to cover the opening. The text of the article about the new visitor center is below or available here.
By Kelly Byer
The Harold S. Fry Visitor Center at Fry Family Park is open to the public after years of planning.
The 322-acre property in the 2500 block of Farber Street SE once belonged to Harold Fry, whose son Richard was the county's first park director. It's within both the Nimishillen Creek and Tuscarawas River watersheds.
"So we knew we wanted to talk about water quality and watersheds at this park," said Sarah Buell, projects and administration manager for Stark Parks.
The visitor center features a wet lab, library, and various indoor and outdoor spaces for educational activities and community events. The center's hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday until permanent hours are established in 2022.
Buell said it cost about $1.2 million to renovate the Fry house into a visitor center. The park district spent about $300,000 and received $900,000 in contributions from the Stark Community Foundation, George H. Deuble Foundation, Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, and Timken Foundation of Canton — whose contribution went toward a park shelter.
The park district worked with SoL Harris/Day architects to turn the lodge-like house into a visitor center. They repositioned some walls and a stairwell and installed an elevator.
"It didn't take major moves to turn it into a visitors' center," Buell said.
The center, which welcomed its first visitors at a grand opening Saturday, will be a place to learn about park happenings. Buell said Stark Parks will build new trails and a fishing dock at Fry Park and also start to restore 35 acres of prairie and 35 acres of woodland in the spring.
"People will be able to learn about all those projects and the importance of watershed and water quality and to get a first-hand look at what some of the habitat restoration work looks like as well," she said.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.
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