PENINSULA, Ohio — New land is slated to become part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, after the old Brandywine Golf Course property sold earlier this week. However, unlike most park additions, not everyone is particularly happy about this one.
"Everybody wears more than one hat," Dan Schneider, the Mayor of Peninsula, said. "We have, technically, five full-time employees in this town, so everyone else ... [has] other jobs, including myself."
Schneider has lived in Peninsula his whole life and been the mayor of the village for about two years. It's a small village of less than 600 residents, and when it comes to money, they're barely scraping bye.
"If anything ever happens, an emergency situation of any kind in town, our finances cannot handle it," he told 3News.
As a way to generate income, and to the dismay of some, they recently added pay for parking in the village. The mayor says their small police force is underpaid, their roads need repaired and most places don't have access to water and sewers.
"It's hard to believe that every morning, trucks actually truck water into both of those restaurants so they can operate all day long," he said.
So when the village heard the old Brandywine Golf Course was being purchased by the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, they were less than thrilled.
"We were hoping for a better resolution, maybe even sharing the property with the conservancy and the park," Schneider said.
"This land has been identified for a long time as critical land for the national park," Deb Yandala, President and CEO of the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, countered.
The conservancy, who plans to sell 192 acres to the national park and retain 15 acres themselves, says it’s a much needed addition in a prime spot.
"This property connects the Virginia Kendall unit where the ledges are," Yandala explained. "It connects with the Boy Scout property and over to the Summit Metroparks in the eastern side of the national park."
The property is made up of more than 200 acres that welcomed golfers until 2018. The coursed use to pay property taxes and employees paid income taxes, but with the new ownership, that won't be the case.
"We will listen to people," Yandala said. "We're already getting lots of suggestions, as you can imagine. The park service will do that as well."
Woodridge Local Schools also opposed the sale, hoping for some sort of private development. Superintendent Walter C. Davis gave a statement to 3News saying:
"For our school district, it means nearly $46,000 in property tax receipts that the National Park will be exempt from paying. For the Village, it means that the last major property that could have been available for economic development - is gone - with no tax collections - once again to the park."
While the sale already went through, the village of Peninsula and the conservancy both say they're hopeful they can work together to find a way to keep the park growing and Peninsula alive.
"We're still hopeful that some time the conservancy and the park does something that at least has some employees that would help out," Schneider said. "Where some places people don't think $1,000 dollars means a lot, every dollar counts here."
"I'm sympathetic to the village's plight," Yandala admitted. "It's been challenging for them to have so much of their property tied up and owned by the federal government. We really want to work with Peninsula officials and really help Peninsula as a gateway to the national park."