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Cleanup planned Friday for popular Akron trail dealing with dumping

Haley's run underwent $8 million restoration in 2010
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Posted at 4:15 PM, Apr 21, 2022

AKRON, Ohio — From a polluted site to a popular park, Haley’s Run Trail in Akron has undergone major changes over the last 10-15 years.

However, since its $8 million transformation which wrapped up in 2010, organizers at Western Reserve Land Conservancy told News 5 that the five-acre park is still dealing with a trash problem.

“Really the big problem is dumping when people pull up with a vehicle to dispose of furniture,” Sarah Kitson, land steward at Western Reserve Land Conservancy, said.

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A door, gaming chair, beer cans, tires, and other item could be see on on Haley's trail during a visit Thursday.

As Kitson points out, the nonprofit land trust doesn’t have a full-time park maintenance staff since only a few of its properties are open to the public. She noted that trash items can have a negative impact on wildlife and vegetation on the trail.

From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday, April 22, the organization will host a cleanup event at the park, which is located at 730 Landon Avenue in Akron. Volunteer check-in is set for 8:30 a.m.

Among those taking part in Friday’s cleanup is Dave Gunnerson, a retired remediation project manager at Lockheed Martin, who oversaw the trail’s initial restoration.

“This is a little green jewel in the middle of urban Akron,” he said. “I sort of feel like this is my baby project and I have a hard time letting go.”

Gunnerson told News 5 that when Lockheed Martin purchased the nearby Goodyear Airdock, the company learned that the structure was contributing man-made toxic chemicals into the ground.

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An undated image of the Goodyear Airdock, which was built in 1929.

“The covering and roof membrane of it has PCBs in it, unknownst to anyone,” he said. "Those PCBs over 50-75 years flaked off and came down the storm drain.”

That $8 million restoration initiative involved stripping down the land and digging out all the dirt.

“We restored the stream to a meandering channel and put back all this vegetation when it was small 12 years ago,” Gunnerson said. “It's wonderful to see how much it’s grown. It’s a career-defining element in my career to say I've made a park and it’s enjoyed by people.”

To learn more about the cleanup event and to sign up, click here.