Bob Downing

About 200 gulls have made themselves at home at Killbuck Lakes, the Medina County Park District’s newest park and the 17th open to the public.

The gulls, which often scavenge for food in the parking lots at the nearby Lodi outlet mall, can be found swimming in the unnamed 47-acre lake that is the centerpiece of the 408-acre county park.

The park is the former Baker Sand and Gravel property with lakes, ponds, wetlands, meadows and forests. But water is the park’s dominant feature with three deep lakes and one shallow lake that together cover 68 acres.

The lake, left behind by the sand and gravel operations, provides a resting place for migrating waterfowl.

It lies north of Interstate 71 and the Ohio Station Outlets shopping mall near the Medina-Wayne county line.

The park, in the works for a decade, opened to the public Thanksgiving week for passive recreation: fishing, boating, hiking and wildlife watching.

There is not even a sign installed yet to identify the bare-bones park at 7996 White Road.

Phase 1 of park development included a nature trail, plus a boat launch, a parking lot and a portable toilet on 185 acres.

Around the main lake is the 1.23-mile Lake Loop Trail.

Work will continue into 2016 and visitors may find muddy conditions through the winter along the trail, advised Thomas James, director of the park district.

“There’s not much there right now,” he said, although that will change in the coming years.

For now, Killbuck Lakes is designed to be “a very passive park,” he said.

The park district got a $925,000 Clean Ohio grant in 2005 and acquired an initial 353 acres. The company later donated 38 acres, the district purchased an additional 16.7 acres and there is potential to expand to about 750 acres.

But the cash-strapped district was, for many years, unable to open Killbuck Lakes.

Neighbors are happy that the park is finally open.

Some neighbors have hiked around the big lake for years, but most have honored the park closure signs, said John Springsteen, 60, of Harrisville Township.

“It’s nice that it’s finally finished and open,” he said.

The closest Medina County park is Hubbard Valley Park in Guilford Township, Springsteen said. It would take as much time to drive to that park as he would spend hiking, he said.

Water quality at Killbuck Lakes is excellent, said James.

Only non-motorized boats including canoes and kayaks and small watercraft with electric motors are permitted on the big lake.

A fish survey in October found catchable bass, bluegills and crappie. There were smaller numbers of bowfin, grass pickerel, white sucker, carp, mudminnow and pumpkinseed sunfish.

Daily catch limits to help maintain the health of the fish population are posted, James said.

The park’s deep-water lakes are directly connected to a major underground aquifer that is a critical water source for homeowners and farmers in southern Medina and northern Wayne counties, James said.

Preservation of the lakes and the land surrounding them enhances quality of life and helps protect this vital aquifer from contamination, he said.

Park hours: dawn to dusk.

For more information, call 330-722-9364 or go to www.medinacounty?parks.com.

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