Bob Downing

Cafes at Confluence and Goodyear Heights metro parks.

Perhaps even a roaming food truck to feed hungry visitors at Summit Metro Parks.

These are two intriguing suggestions from a 10-member task force on Tuesday that was charged over the last three months to explore the possibility of the park district starting its own restaurant. The eatery idea was first floated by park commissioner Jane Bond.

The five park commissioners took no action on the report submitted by task force members Laura Wallerstein and Jim Shriner.

The park district expects to begin soliciting public comment on the plan next week and more information will be made available at that time, said spokesman Nate Eppink.

The prospect of starting a restaurant in the park system came under fire from two people in attendance. Gary Whidden, of Cuyahoga Falls, and Neil Rothstein, of Akron, both sharply questioned why the park district was looking into starting a cafe.

The task force was “very excited” about looking into the feasibility of offering food options as a way to get more people into the parks, Wallerstein said.

The three concepts would “have the potential to serve an unmet need in the Metro Parks, enhance the visitor experience and engage the non-user,” the task force wrote in its 36-page report.

She likened the task force’s efforts to brainstorming possibilities. More public input will be sought later as plans are developed and all three options are on the table for discussion, she said.

The task force favored the idea of breakfasts, lunches and dinners being served under the three scenarios, and beer and wine might be served too, she said.

The task force suggested that the park district develop a cafe and nature center off Manchester Road near the Akron-Coventry Township line.

The park-owned property offers stunning vistas and water access to Long Lake, Wallerstein said. There are nearby Towpath Trail connections.

The site was previously a Red Barn restaurant.

Confluence Park is mostly a watery, wetlands park between Akron and Coventry. It is slowly developing but there are few facilities.

The task force also suggested a permanent cafe or restaurant at Goodyear Heights in East Akron or a food truck that could move from park to park, Wallerstein said.

It would be cheaper to start food truck service, she said.

Starting the food truck could also show there is enough community support to enlarge the food service program, she said.

The task force rejected sites in Sand Run Metro Park in northwest Akron, near Akron’s Mustill Store in the Cascade Locks Park and downtown Akron sites, she said.

Sand Run is not feasible because of the costs associated with needed water and sewer service, she said.

The park district did not own suitable land in downtown Akron and the economics of the Mustill Store area did not look good, she said.

Other task force members include park commissioners Bond and Morgan Greene, park planner Lisa King, Michelle Byrne, Michelle Davis, Jerry Holland, Kyle Kutuchief and Charles Murphy.

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