BOSTON MILL VISITOR CENTER: Coming Spring/Summer 2019
Each year, Cuyahoga Valley National Park welcomes over two million visitors, with 20 percent coming from out-of-state. However, the park lacks an essential piece to welcome all these people: a full-service, central visitor center. Soon, that’ll change for good.
- Location: SE corner of Riverview and Boston Mills roads, Village of Boston
- Budget: $6.75 million
- 2017: Planning & design
- 2018: Groundbreaking & construction
- 2019: Planned opening
Soon, Cuyahoga Valley National Park will be able to welcome visitors to a new, state-of-the-art visitor center. This “front door” to the park will help orient new visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley and connect locals to its wide array of landscapes and programs.
The new Boston Mill Visitor Center will serve as a central, one-stop resource—a destination for visitors to plan their journeys in the national park and Ohio & Erie Canalway.
The project includes a main visitor center building and two smaller buildings nearby, which will serve as public restrooms and office space. Each will see a complete rehabilitation in keeping with the historic feel of the Village of Boston. An outdoor pavilion and courtyard will provide visitors with park information and resources 24/7, while indoor exhibits will orient visitors to the park and its geography, natural resources, history, & surrounding areas.
In close partnership with the National Park Service, the Conservancy is managing the fundraising, planning, design, and construction for the project. When it’s complete, the Conservancy will “hand over the keys” to the National Park Service, which will be responsible for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the property.
The project is being led by the National Park Service in close partnership with the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the park’s nonprofit friends group. With NPS support, the Conservancy is managing the fundraising, planning, design, and construction process.
The project’s lead contractors are all based in Ohio, making for a uniquely local team:
- Architecture: Peninsula Architects (Peninsula, Ohio)
- Engineering: Environmental Design Group (Akron, Ohio)
- Exhibit Design: Hilferty & Associates (Athens, Ohio)
- Construction Manager: Regency Construction Services (Lakewood, Ohio)
Conservancy’s Role in the Project
The National Park Service cannot complete this project alone. Raising the funds to acquire and develop the visitor center needed to be a public-private partnership, because federal budget realities make it impossible for the National Park Service to undertake this project on its own.
The Conservancy has a philanthropic mission to strengthen and provide support for the park. The Boston Mill Visitor Center will enhance all visitors’ experiences in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. To date, 93 individuals, corporations and foundations have partnered with the Conservancy and CVNP by donating a total of $6.45 million for the $6.75 million project.
Support the Project Today
Frequently Asked Questions
- 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, souvenirs, 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.
In the News
January 8, 2018, Cuyahoga Valley National Park breaks ground for new visitor center, Cleveland.com
January 8, 2018, Cuyahoga Valley National Park Visitor Center Breaks Ground Today, Cleveland Scene
January 8, 2018, Cuyahoga Valley National Park to break ground on visitor center, WKSU 89.7
January 8, 2018, Cuyahoga Valley National Park breaks ground on first-ever central visitor center, Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com
January 7, 2018, Groundbreaking set for Cuyahoga Valley National Park visitor center, Fox 8 Cleveland
December 20, 2017, Cuyahoga Valley National Park to break ground on new visitor center, Fresh Water Cleveland
Many thanks to the following individuals, foundations, and corporate funders who have contributed to this project:
$500,000 – $999,999
- GAR Foundation
- The Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation
- The Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust
$250,000 – $499,999
- The Cleveland Foundation
- The George Gund Foundation
- Burton D. Morgan Foundation
- The Reinberger Foundation
- Remen Family Foundation
- Sigrid and Curt Reynolds
$100,000 – $249,999
- Cargill Deicing Technology
- Family of Ron and Ann Allan
- Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation
- Howland Memorial Fund
- Jean Thomas Lambert Foundation
- Diana Kunze and Arthur Brown
- Lehner Family Foundation
- Medical Mutual Community Investment Fund of Akron Community Foundation
$50,000 – $99,999
- Doug and Karen Cooper
- FirstEnergy Foundation
- Thomas and Lisa Mandel Fund of the Mandel Family Foundation
- Ohio & Erie Canalway Association
- M.G. O’Neil Foundation
- Roger Read
- The Sisler McFawn Foundation
- Sue and George Klein
$20,000 – $49,999
- The Akron Garden Club
- CVNP Centennial Grant
- Philip Maynard
- John A. McAlonan Fund of Akron Community Foundation
- Tom and Marilyn Merryweather
- NPS Civil Rights Interpretation (Carl Stokes, Cuyahoga River)
- Parker Hannifin Foundation
- Roush Memorial Fund of Akron Community Foundation
$19,999 and under
Sandra and Richey Smith, Nancy Andrews Family Foundation, Mark Parker and Sue Serdinak, Frank H. and Nancy L. Porter Fund, Mary Jane and John Schremp, Michelle and John Tortorella, President’s Fund of Akron Community Foundation, OMNOVA Solutions Foundation, Sandra Selby, Marilyn Shea-Stonum and Gary L. Stonum, Barbara and Riley Lochridge, Robert A. and Jean C. Meyers Family Fund, Lois Arnold, Christy and Charles Bittenbender, Lynne and Bill Dowling, Bryan and Susan Kinnamon, John Kitto and JoAnn Bedore, Ed Metzger, Stephen and Sonja Metzler, April and Charlie Walton