Dug-9 seeks volunteers for Forest Hill Park

Dug-9 and PAL Volunteers. Photo by Laura Dempsey

Dug-9 Greenspace, a new organization dedicated to preserving, enhancing and expanding greenspace and green infrastructure in the Dugway Brook and Nine Mile Creek watersheds, held its first Arbor Day event on April 27 in Forest Hill Park.

The group held a tree-planting event with trees provided by Cuyahoga ReLEAF, a program administered by the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization. Twenty-three youth volunteers from the East Cleveland Police Athletic League (PAL) and area residents participated. Arborists from Forest City Tree Protection Co. provided pruning demonstrations.

Seven native-species trees were planted near the park’s lake and boathouse. Within a week of planting, one of the new pine trees became home to nesting robins, the dogwood flowered, and leaves unfurled on the new tulip, tupelo and red maple trees.

Volunteers included Dave Gressley, horticulturalist and arborist for Lake View Cemetery, and Dick Secor of the East Cleveland Parks Association. Area businesses—Dewey’s Pizza, Barle Soup & Sandwich, and Starbucks in the Rockefeller Building—provided refreshments.

Forest Hill Park’s 248 acres were donated by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to the cities of East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights in 1936. It was the site of his father’s summer home, which burned in 1917. Two-thirds of the park lies in East Cleveland, the other third is in Cleveland Heights. Designed by landscape architect A.D. Taylor, the park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. It is the largest tract of public parkland between the Cleveland Metroparks' North Chagrin and Rocky River reservations

The lake at Forest Hill Park is a 5.5-acre stormwater-fed pond that drains into the east branch of Dugway Brook, which is culverted. The new trees replace some of trees that have been lost, or are expected to be lost. Additional tree canopy and root systems will help mitigate stormwater impact and provide shade, habitat and seasonal color.

The Division of Wildlife at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources stocked the lake with trout on April 5. Last year, East Cleveland Parks Association (ECPA) installed aerators and raised the lake level to improve water quality.

Dug-9 hopes to plant native shrubs, grasses and flowering plants around the lake’s nearly 1,850-linear-feet perimeter, and is seeking volunteers and plant donations. A small grant from the Captain Planet Foundation was awarded in May to the East Cleveland PAL towards its goal of planting 200 linear feet of the lake edge by fall 2013.

The lake is located in the East Cleveland section of the park and dog walking is permitted there. Carl U., a regular park visitor, said that he believes the fishers, hikers, joggers and dog walkers make the park safer, cleaner and more sociable. “Vandals and litterers don’t want to be observed,” he said. “The more people in the park, the more that kind of behavior is discouraged.”

Vicki Mentrek, landscape designer and manager of Grande’s Garden Center, said, “Throughout the park, you will find 360 degrees of beautiful.” Mentrek said her admiration for Dutch Harley, a longtime advocate for Forest Hill who died at age 98 in January, was what prompted her to donate 140 plants to the park last year. “His spirit surely lives on in Forest Hill Park,” she said. 

For more information and to volunteer, contact Alice Jeresko at 216-371-9834 or dug9@icloud.com.

Alice Jeresko

Alice Jeresko is a Dug-9 Greenspace advocate.

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Volume 6, Issue 6, Posted 1:48 PM, 05.21.2013