Bob Downing

Changes are coming to Sand Run Metro Park.

Options include extending the Sand Run Jogging Trail to Merriman Road, replacing the Wadsworth Shelter with a new picnic shelter at Big Bend, adding playground and outdoor fitness equipment at the Wadsworth Area and moving parking off Sand Run Parkway and into new parking lots, according to Summit Metro Parks.

The park district has been working for a year on a new master plan for the 994-acre park in northwest Akron, said chief planner Lisa King.

A public meeting will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Mingo Shelter off Sand Run Parkway to outline the options and get feedback.

Sand Run is the No. 1 park area with 2.4 million visitors in 2013. It opened to the public in 1929.

The master plan does not include the adjoining Seiberling Nature Realm off Smith Road.

The park district is considering closing the section of Sand Run Parkway between Merriman Road and North Portage Path to extend the jogging trail about a mile.

A parking lot and rest rooms would be added at Merriman Road.

A loop option back to the existing trail is also possible, King said.

A new trail could be built from the Merriman Road and Sand Run Parkway intersection around Blowers Knob, a wooded hilltop that overlooks the southern end of the Merriman Valley creating a new loop of 2¼ miles, she said.

Stairs could be added to provide access to the top of Blowers Knob.

The Wadsworth Shelter is showing its age and needs to be replaced, King said.

The park district is considering replacing that shelter with a new open-air one at the Big Bend Area off Merriman Road.

The Wadsworth Shelter was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and can accommodate 96 people.

“It is beloved, but it needs to be replaced,” she said adding that could happen in the next two to three years.

A new play field, a pond with fishing, winter skating and areas to naturally treat stormwater runoff from Merriman Road are envisioned at Big Bend, she said.

At present, Big Bend offers winter skating on a flooded area and a connection to the Towpath Trail.

Playground and outdoor fitness equipment might be added in the Wadsworth Area where the shelter now stands.

The park is also looking at eliminating parking along Sand Run Parkway and building three off-road parking lots instead. The proposed lots would be in the grassy parts of the Old Portage, Shadowfield and Wadsworth areas off Sand Run Parkway and there is enough room to accommodate the lots, she said.

A bike lane could also be added on the parkway. The goal would be to make the roadway more of parkway and trees would be planted along the road.

Other possibilities include:

• Redesigning the Y-shaped intersections of Treaty Line Road with Merriman Road and North Portage Path.

• Rerouting the Valley Link Trail where it crosses Merriman Road to connect with Cascade Valley Metro Park to avoid a steep section.

• Adding a small shelter, a playground and basketball courts at the north end of North Hawkins Avenue.

• Discussing with Fairlawn the possibility of adding a traffic roundabout at Sand Run Parkway and Revere Road.

• Adding and improving connector trails to neighborhoods that surround the park.

The new study comes while a consultant is working on an analysis of Sand Run, the stream that flows through the park and into the Cuyahoga River.

The study by EMH&T, based in New Albany, Ohio, is expected to be completed in December and will look at the stream’s hydraulics and hydrology including culverts and potential landslides that can be triggered by the stream and wet conditions.

It is possible that new bridges may be needed to get Sand Run Parkway traffic safely through the park, King said. Landslides in that steep-walled section of the park are getting bigger.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.