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.
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.
“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.