Scant attendance at Catawba meeting troubling

I attended a public meeting on June 27 regarding future improvements to Catawba Island State Park on Lake Erie.

Goal of the gathering was to solicit input from park users and neighbors about the planned upgrades.

It was an important event, held at the posh Catawba Island Club just down the road from the park itself. The room was full of Ohio DNR administrators, as well as staffers from the parks and watercraft divisions and the engineering firm that will oversee the work.

What (or who) was missing were residents of the exclusive, waterfront housing developments that flank the park. Actually, one man in attendance did identify himself as a local homeowner. He seemed amazed that no other neighbors showed up.

The meeting was announced in local media. Whether or not notices were overlooked or folks just didn’t care seemed to baffle everyone.

These improvements will have a direct impact on the day-use park – and likely on property values around it.

Boat and trailer traffic in and out of the area will increase once the park’s four launch ramps are improved. And that means more vehicles parked in the expanded lot.

Three park buildings currently used for storage will come down and that will change current views of the lake from several directions.

Plans are to convert an old concrete pier that juts into the lake into greenspace where folks can stroll, walk dogs or gather for fun.

The work will occasionally halt traffic on the single road that leads in and out of the surrounding subdivisions. A Catawba Island policeman in attendance expressed concern about limited accessibility for emergency responders – fire trucks and squads.

With all this on the table, it seems the neighbors should be more interested and ready to provide opinions.

But, too often these days, folks don’t pay attention to what’s happening around them until the “horse is out of the barn,” so to speak. Then, they just want to raise a ruckus and complain.

I see the trend at local city council, school and zoning board meetings. And it’s not a good thing.

Everyone is busy these days. And politics on the national level grab our collective attentions.

But it is local issues – like improving a nearby state park – that most directly affect our lives and fortunes.

The DNR will continue to accept comments and opinions about Catawba Island State Park improvements at parks.ohiodnr.gov/catawbaisland.

Categories: News, Ohio – Jane Beathard, Walleye

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