The Stark County Park District has completed land acquisition at the Fry Family Park.
Two transactions were completed to add 109.7 acres to the natural-area park near East Sparta in Pike Township.
The park district purchased 81 acres from the Harold S. Fry Trust and 28.7 acres from neighbors Norton Carnes and Beverly Morehead.
The latest purchases were funded by $1.24 million from the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation program administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission, plus $250,000 from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.
The two land deals increase the size of the park to 348 acres.
Earlier, the park district had acquired two parcels from Fry, whose son, Richard, served as the first park district director — from 1977 until his death in 1994.
The first change park visitors will see in late 2013 will be improvements to the access drive and parking, district Director Bob Fonte said.
In the meantime, the park is only open for specific events and programs presented by the park district.
Access is expected to grow in 2014 to sunrise to sunset daily, Fonte said.
“It is a spectacularly beautiful property, with rolling hills, woods and a great pond for fishing and boating,” he said in a statement.
Plans include trails, ice skating, fishing, boating, picnic facilities, a children’s play area, sledding and a nature center in the old Fry house.
Under a master plan the park district has completed, 80 percent of the park would remain undeveloped.
Buildings on the Carnes property will be turned into a new Sandy Valley Branch Library/park visitor center and a park maintenance facility.
Park access will be off Westbrook and Farber streets.
The park is expected to serve as trailheads along the Lower Middle Branch Trail that will connect to Canton’s Monument Park and the Sandy & Beaver Canal Trail that will run to the east to Magnolia, Waynesburg and Minerva.
A copy of the master plan is available at www.starkparks.com.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.