A big thanks to everyone who took our online survey about the new Boston Mill Visitor Center! We’ve enjoyed reading through your comments and ideas, and we wanted to share some of our biggest takeaways that will drive our work going forward.
One of the survey questions asked what you would like most to see in the new visitor center. The most popular answer was “History of the Valley/Park”—here were some of your suggestions for topics to cover:
- “Previous history of area in regards to its importance in the canal era and early Summit and Cuyahoga counties”
- “Opportunities to learn about the park from Native Americans”
- “History of the park, info about John Seiberling’s efforts”
- “Environmental achievements since the park was built”
- “History of the park’s founding … the balance between nature & positive but not glaring change”
- “Why CVNP is a park. Many people try to compare places like Yosemite with CVNP, but they are focusing on natural features and missing the cultural and historical piece. I think lifting that out will help people appreciate CVNP.”
Other popular topics you would like to see covered at the new center included maps/trails, wildlife, “must-see” features/popular activities, natural history, and nature & plants. For instance:
- “Information on hiking trails, planned additions to mountain bike trails, planned improvements to foster safer roads for cyclists”
- “The excellent environmental rebirth and recovery from the ‘burning river’”
- “Advice on which trails fit [visitors’] abilities, amount of time, and interests—animals, wild flowers, quiet, or loud romping”
- “What makes this park special & unique; what are the main attractions & how do you get there? / a beginner’s guide to CVNP. If they only have one day or the weekend, what should they make a priority to see in CVNP?”
Many of you also shared general questions, comments, and concerns about the new visitor center—here are a few FAQs:
- Why does the project cost $6.75 million? The expense of this project includes several major project elements, including acquisition of the property (from a willing-seller private owner), rehabilitation of the main visitor center building and two additional buildings (for restrooms and planned office space), and a central courtyard and “May Barn” pavilion overlooking the Cuyahoga River. The cutting-edge exhibits within the visitor center also account for a large percentage of the project’s expenses, as well as its planned designation as a LEED-certified green building. Lastly, although it’s not necessarily intuitive, historic rehabilitation projects like this one are typically more expensive than building from scratch. That’s because the buildings were constructed before modern public use standards were in place, so their foundations and main structures must be re-built to ensure visitor safety and longevity of the buildings. Despite the expense, the park chose the rehabilitation option because of the value placed on protecting the historic integrity, character, and value of the Village of Boston—so you can enjoy an authentic historic experience in the valley.
- How will parking be addressed? If you’ve visited the park’s current visitor centers on a beautiful summer day, you know how crowded parking areas can be. The Boston Mill Visitor Center project includes construction of a brand-new parking lot, which will hold at least 100 cars outside the center of the village, on Riverview Road. This issue continues to be a top priority throughout the park and is being evaluated on an ongoing basis to ensure a positive visitor experience.
- How will you ensure the safety of visitors so close to the railroad tracks? The visitor center planning and design team is fully aware of the close proximity of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to the new center and is carefully planning ways to mitigate safety concerns around the tracks. The site will be designed with well-defined walkways and “buffer” areas to keep visitors away from the tracks except in designated crossing areas, which will be designed and built with safety precautions. In general, the proximity of the CVSR station to the Boston Mill Visitor Center is intended to create a more integrated experience for park visitors, who might enter the park on the train and get off at the visitor center stop to explore—or vice versa.
- Will there be a gift shop in the new center? Yes! There will be a small retail location operated by the Conservancy on the ground level of the new visitor center, featuring special CVNP products and educational items relating to the history of the valley. We’ll also continue to operate our nearby Trail Mix Boston store, just across the river from the new center.
- Will the new center be accessible year-round? Many of you wrote that you’d like to make sure visitors know about all the great winter activities in the park (in addition to the more obvious warm-weather activities). So yes, the Boston Mill Visitor Center will be open year-round (specific hours yet to be determined). Even when the center is closed (in the evenings, for instance), visitors will be able to find park and area information from kiosks and other visitor information areas in the courtyard.
We’ve shared all of this information with our Boston Mill Visitor Center team, and we look forward to keeping you updated on the project as it progresses. You can read more about the project and see the latest updates at forCVNP.org/VisitorCenter.
Thanks again for your feedback! We truly value your thoughts and ideas on this project and in all the work we do, and we appreciate the time you took to give us your feedback. If you’ve thought of any other comments, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.