City of Green Changes Direction on Potential Use for the Historical Hartong Homestead Located in Southgate Park
Green, OH – At a joint meeting last evening, the City of Green’s Parks and Recreation Board and Historic Preservation Commission unanimously passed resolutions of support to move forward with a new direction for the Historical Levi Hartong farmstead located in Southgate Park, 5300 Massillon Road. This new innovative direction is to return the home and up to 22-acres of the park back into farmland through a lease arrangement with a farmer who would live in the farmhouse and work on the property.
This new concept was presented by the Planning Department and Parks and Recreation Division, who collaborated over the past several months on researching and discussing the idea.
“This show of support by these boards is a first step to changing our direction,” said Sarah Haring, community development administrator for the City of Green. “Our next steps will be to develop the request for proposal and market the idea to potential farmers.”
Previously the idea for the farmhouse, which is currently being rented to an individual by the City, was to turn the historic home into a trailhead and exhibit space.
According to Haring, the last several years the City has undertaken projects that are necessary to protect the buildings such as replacing the roof. The next steps would be to then make those buildings accessible to the public.
“The cost involved in doing that is prohibitive – it just made sense to make sure we were heading in the right direction,” said Haring. “In the end there was a strong feeling that providing an engaging public exhibit space in this very remote area was not fiscally responsible and in terms of maintenance and staffing, not sustainable. The idea of returning the land to its original and historic use – a small scale agricultural farm – seems to be the right fit.”
Mike Elkins, superintendent of Parks and Recreation, agrees that the proposed land, which is currently a meadow located in the southwest corner of the property, is not used by current park visitors.
“This project takes full advantage of the opportunities Southgate Park presents to our community, and creates additional diversity within our entire park system that consists of more than 530 acres. It would also create another living classroom for our community only adding to the value of the park and those who visit it,” said Elkins.
The next steps
With the support of the Parks and Recreation Board and the Historical Preservation Commission, the next steps to make this a reality is to prepare a request for proposal, which will require a portion to serve as a community education element.
Earlier this year Haring and Elkins and others met with individuals at the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, which leases Cuyahoga Valley National Park land to farmers, to learn more about their process and to ensure the location in Green could fit the model of sustainable farming on parkland.
“Having a success story and model such as the Countryside Conservancy in our area has really helped pave the way for us to envision success,” said Haring.
Applications and proposals will begin to be accepted in the spring of 2014. The City is not specifying a timeline for its selection process, but rather waiting to find the right person and project to collaborate on this unique opportunity, according to Elkins and Haring.
Those wishing to receive a copy of the request for proposal/application may contact Sarah Haring at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Levi J. Hartong Farmstead is the only property in Green listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property includes the 1880s Farmhouse and Bank Barn plus a number of outbuildings and a funerary.
Southgate Park, acquired by the City of Green in 2006, is 205-acre nature park adjacent to Boettler Park, 5300 Massillon Road, with 5 miles of hiking trails through forestland and meadows. In addition to the historical Hartong Farmstead, the park also features as wetlands and four stocked fishing ponds.
The City of Green, Ohio, founded in 1992, is a prosperous, progressive and promising city with more than 25,000 residents. Approximately 33.5 square-miles, Green is located in southern Summit County. Visit www.cityofgreen.org.