PARMA, Ohio — A park space formerly used by sports teams at Padua Franciscan High School will be restored as a natural habitat after the school sold it to the nonprofit West Creek Conservancy.
"One of our patrons, St. Francis of Assisi, was a protector of nature and the environment. WCC has a proven respect for creation. We Franciscans are confident that this property will be treated with respect and dignity, so that all who seek peace and beauty can find it here," said Padua President Fr. Allan DaCorte.
The 18.67-acre site, located at 2901 West Ridgewood Drive in Parma, includes a soccer field, an enclosed pavilion and wooded area, which were used by sports teams and for retreats for the past 15 years.
"Padua owes an incredible debt of gratitude to the Board and to the extraordinary efforts of our donors, that now with this sale has helped to secure Padua’s future," said principal David Stec, who will be taking on a new role as president in July. "With the addition of field turf at Padua Stadium in 2014 and the increased ability to use it, Padua Park is no longer a necessity. It will be better utilized to strengthen our ecology and increase the green space of Parma."
West Creek Conservancy, whose mission is to conserve natural habitats, said connecting Padua Franciscan Park to the West Creek corridor, which includes West Creek Reservation and the West Creek Watershed, is the last piece of that puzzle. The acquisition of the park will create new park and trail connections, increase entryways and allow for more public nature spaces.
"It was a pleasure to work with Padua to permanently preserve this area, a lasting legacy for generations and the region," said Derek Schafer, executive director of West Creek Conservancy, in a news release. " Progress through partnerships cannot be underestimated and we sincerely appreciate Padua’s willingness to work with West Creek and move this property into perpetual protection – an asset for the community!"