PENINSULA: The Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park hopes to punch its ticket in new retail space in the heart of Peninsula.
Ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday for Trail Mix Peninsula, a site that will serve as park information center, snack spot and retail outlet. The first train is scheduled to roll in 40 minutes later.
The conservancy, a friends-of-the-park group, has been selling drinks, books, clothing, park-related gifts and railroad items from an old railroad car in Peninsula since May. Previously, the conservancy operated Park Place in Peninsula from July 2008 to December 2011 at 1593 Main St. (state Route 303).
The new space, at 1600 W. Mill St., sits closer to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. That should make a big difference, said Deb Yandala, CEO of the conservancy.
“That’s what we missed at Park Place in Peninsula,” she said Tuesday during a media preview tour of the new facility.
The new location is just north of the Peninsula Nite Club and almost immediately next to the Peninsula Depot that the Cuyahoga Valley park uses to greet hundreds of visitors getting off the trains.
The old location failed to attract large numbers of train passengers, Yandala said.
Trail Mix Peninsula provides about 3,500 square feet of space and will be a joint venture between the conservancy (70 percent) and the railroad (30 percent).
“It is a dream of a building,” Yandala said.
It is envisioned that the space will become a major destination for park visitors, she said, later describing it as becoming “a family-happy, a child-happy place.”
The conservancy raised about $300,000 to remodel the space where an architectural firm, EPI, previously had been housed, Yandala said.
Akron architect Elizabeth Murphy aided that effort.
Locally sourced gifts and foods will be featured, along with children’s items. Trail Mix Peninsula also will provide park information and maps on trails and other attractions. It will sell art and jewelry crafted by local artists plus Cuyahoga Valley apparel and souvenirs.
There will be a small cafe selling beverages and prepared sandwiches, said spokeswoman Pamela Good, director of retail services for the conservancy.
The goal: to sell about $250,000 of retail goods annually. The two parties will split proceeds 70/30, Good said.
The parties have signed a 10-year lease with the Peninsula Valley Historic and Education Foundation, which owns the building. Peninsula Art Academy occupies the other half of the one-story, green cement-block structure.
A horseshoe-shaped front desk that came from a now-closed Border’s Books store dominates Trail Mix Peninsula’s interior.
The venue will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round, with extended hours in advance of Christmas.
The conservancy also operates its original Trail Mix store in Boston Township across the street from the park’s Boston Store Visitor Center. It specializes in snacks and is open from spring to fall, catering to trail users.
Trail Mix Peninsula is designed to assist the park by selling railroad tickets and providing visitor information, plus public restrooms.
The National Park Service will assess its staffing needs at the tiny Peninsula Depot after the new facility has been in operation for a time, park spokeswoman Mary Pat Doorley said.
Trail Mix Peninsula will provide park information but no interpretation and no exhibits, she said.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.