John Seiberling, Ralph Regula and others present at the creation of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park understood the challenges that remained, the formation of the park hardly the end of the achievement. They knew then that tests would arrive to preserve, extend and enhance the 33,000 acres between Akron and Cleveland.
On Monday, the park and its friends celebrated the passing of a big test. They marked the purchase of 578 acres of undeveloped land from the Blossom Music Center, the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra. The deal long has been in the works, requiring $9.2 million in federal money. It is worth every penny, the park gaining hold of one of the largest such tracts still available, the purchase meshing perfectly with the original vision.
Much credit goes to the Land for Public Trust in driving the arrangement, its noble purpose to protect lands vulnerable to the march of sprawl. The Musical Arts Association, the parent of the orchestra, didn’t have to go in this direction. It made an enlightened choice. And here was an opportunity for bipartisanship, George Voinovich, Sherrod Brown, Steve LaTourette and Betty Sutton all playing a part in securing the purchase.
What Seiberling, Regula and others grasped then was the huge difference an urban national park could make to the quality of life. Hard to cite a decision that has paid greater dividends to the region the past three decades. And now the park has been made stronger with this purchase and the collaboration required to move forward.