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Peninsula Out-of-town visitors now make up about 20 percent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park users and more Northeast Ohioans are discovering the national park in their own backyard.
Now, in response to that growing interest, Cuyahoga Valley National Park will open a new Visitor Center in the village of Boston. The $5.9 million facility will help orient newcomers to the park, and connect locals to the its wide array of landscapes and programs.
"People are so excited to spend time in the park that our existing Boston Store Visitor Center doesn't meet the needs of our visitors!" said Deb Yandala, the Conservancy's CEO. "We knew it was time to open a bigger space to accommodate demand."
The Conservancy's board has authorized the purchase of land and buildings on the southeast corner of Riverview and Boston Mill roads in the Village of Boston. The historic property will be renovated to serve as a central, one-stop resource where visitors can plan their journeys in the national park and Ohio & Erie Canalway.
The Conservancy, which is the nonprofit friends group for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, will manage fundraising, planning, design, and construction and the Visitor Center will be operated by the National Park Service. The board's action comes as fundraising for the project nears completion. Full funding is expected by June 30, 2017.
"This project is a great example of a strong public-private partnership in that local donors have been instrumental in making it happen," said Conservancy Board Chairman Jim Nash. "The $4.87 million already raised shows that Northeast Ohioans value the park as a regional asset."
Craig Kenkel, park superintendent, welcomed the project as a fitting end to 2016's National Park Service Centennial. "This new Visitor Center will help us better serve the next century of park visitors," he said.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Conservancy staff and volunteers will move ahead with planning and design in 2017. Construction will start in 2018, with a planned opening in the summer of 2019.