Friends of Clark Field holds first awards ceremony

(Plain Press, March 2007) Friends of Clark Field held their first ever Awards Night on February 9th in a meeting room in St. Michael’s Church rectory on Scranton Avenue. Friends of Clark Field Chairperson Beverly Wurm handed out an award or certificate of appreciation to almost all of the 75 people in attendance.

Wurm noted the efforts of many volunteers in helping Friends of Clark Field plant flowers, paint over graffiti, plant trees, help the park become the site for the city of Cleveland’s only dog park, and host events such as the Easter egg hunt, show wagon, art in the park day for children, soccer camp, free movies, and a Halloween party.

Concern about the neglected park at the bottom of Castle hill in the W. 11th and Clark area led the Mentor Castle Clark Block Club to hold a series of meetings on the status of the park in 2001.  At that time the park was filled with beer bottles, drug needles, abandoned cars and other trash, said Wurm. The early meetings of the Mentor Castle Clark block club led to the formation of Friends of Clark Field in January of 2002.

In its first year of existence Friends of Clark Field met with various city of Cleveland officials from the Parks and Recreation, Planning and Community Development departments and began working with the city and the Kent State Urban School of Design to devise a master plan for the fifty-acre park.

To develop the master plan, graduate students from Professor Maurizio Sabini’s class at the Kent State Urban School of Design met with Tremont area residents in town hall meetings to discuss ideas for the park. With input from these meetings, Sabini’s students helped design the master plan for the park. Professor Sabini, who has continued to lend his support to Friends of Clark Field as a soccer coach, was honored with an award.

Tremont West Development Corporation staff, and particularly its organizers, have also played a crucial role over the years in helping the Friends of Clark Field organize events at Clark Field. Wurm acknowledged the importance of this relationship and honored TWDC organizer Michelle Davis with an award.

Randy and Mary Ann Balog and the youths of the St. Michael’s Junior Holy Name Society were honored for their labor and support at the many events and functions held by friends of Clark Field.

Mary Ann Ludwig was honored for her assistance with fundraising for the group. Gloria Aron accepted an award for Neighborhood Connections for the role grants from the organization have played in helping the park. Ward 13 Councilman Joe Cimperman and Ward 14 Councilman Joe Santiago were praised for their continuous support of events at the park and efforts to improve the park.

Jim Noga was honored for contributing a history of the park for the Friends of Clark Field brochure. Noga’s history traces the history of Clark Field from the original purchase of the swampy Hadlow’s Farm by the city of Cleveland in 1949, through its various recreational uses in the 1970s and early 1980s up to the present day.

Wurm thanked the many people who have contributed to helping to bring back recreational use of Clark Field. She said the group had come a long way, but still had a long way to go to complete the master plan. She said the group is working on grants to secure play equipment for the park.

Friends of Clark Field is also working with the Natural History Museum and Future Scientists of America on a project which will result in restoring some plants indigenous to the area to part of the park. Wurm notes that wildlife has already been returning to the park. She reports that geese, morning doves, rabbits, raccoons, ground hogs and deer have been seen in the park.

Future additions planned for the park include a basketball court, a picnic area, and a pavilion. Wurm notes that plans call for Clark Field to be connected to the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath multipurpose trail.


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