The Brunswick Lake "Dino Trail" Threatened with Extinction

Glen J. Kuban

gkpaleo@yahoo.com
Updated August 18, 2019
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Synopsis

The "Dino Trail" is an almost 100 ft. long concrete walkway of dinosaur tracks installed in 2013 at Brunswick Lake Park, located behind the Giant Eagle shopping center, a few blocks west of I71 and Rt. 303 in Brunswick, Ohio. The Trail showcases the tracks of over a dozen species of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, representing several different sites and time periods. They include some of the best and most unusual dinosaur tracks in the world, arranged from oldest to youngest, so that visitors are essentially "walking through time" as they proceed up the walkway. Unfortunately, the City of Brunswick recently turned over management of the park to the Medina County Park District (MCPD), whose director Nate Eppink has proposed removing the Trail (or at least moving it, which would entail a lot of unnecessary work, expense, and risk of breakage), without any compelling reason to do so. I have written the following summary of the history and many benefits of the Dino Trail, to make the public and government officials more knowledgeable about it, and in hopes of convincing MCPD to reverse course and keep the Trail in the park. I and many others feel that instead of seeing the Trail as a nuisance or detriment to the park, it should be appreciated for the fun and uniquely educational attraction it is, and better marked and publicized, so that it can be enjoyed and appreciated by even more visitors. If you agree, I encourage you to share your views about them with the city and county officials, whose contact info is linked at the end of this summary.

Thank you very much!

Bullet Points

Kids at Dino Trail June 2019
Dino-Trail-start
Dino-Trail-start
Jurassic Section
Cretaceous Section 1
Cretaceous Section 2
Cretaceous Section 2
Hadrosaur tracks
Moa tracks and benches
Bench
Benches and lake view

* The Dino Trail* is a unique and highly educational attraction, showcasing over 130 prehistoric track impressions, representing more types of dinosaurs, localities, and ages, than any other park or museum display in the world.

* The tracks were not sculpted, but made from molds of real dinosaur tracks.

* The tracks are arranged from oldest to youngest, so that visitors are essentially "walking through time" as they progress up the walkway.

* Despite being as yet not well marked or publicized, the Trail has been enjoyed by countless visitors of all ages. Virtually all who visit the slite like it and want it to stay, as anyone can verify by spending some time at the Trail.

* Besides its tremendous intangible value, it also has economic value, as many who come to see the tracks often spend money at surrounding shops and restaurants.

* The Trail took months of planning and work by many individuals and several organizations to bring about, including the Brunswick Artworks, (which largely funded the approx. $13,000 cost for the project), and many local school children who painted the bench tiles, all with approval by the City of Brunswick, and without any cost to the city.

* Objections by a few concerning maintenance neglect, or trip hazards are not well founded. The tracks require virtually no maintenance, and most are relatively shallow and easy to navigate. Any remaining trip concerns can be readily resolved by any number of low cost, low tech solutions.

* Suggestions that they are inconsistent with "naturalization" are even less well founded. The tracks are at least as natural as many other things in and around the park (dam, stores, hotel, condos, roads, etc), especially most of the new things planned for the park by MCPD, including new restrooms, boat launches, fishing dock, fountain, playground, and "climbing strutures".

* Even the tall grass "prairie" proposed for "much of" the east side of the park (whose extent or placement Dino Trail has not yet been clarified), is not entirely natural, since the area was not originally a grassland or prairie, but a woodland. The prairie would also be far from maintenance or hazard free. At best it will reduce the safely usable space in the park, while becoming a likely haven for snakes, rodents, deer ticks, and liter, besides a brush fire risk.

* Suggestions have been made that the Trail could be moved to another location; however, this could not be done without a lot of unnecessary cost, labor, risk of breakage, and undermining of the appearance and integrity of the Trail.

In conclusion, the many benefits of the dinosaur Trail far outweigh any possible downsides. Rather than removing or or trying to move it, it should be better marked and publicized, so that even more residents and visitors get to enjoy and appreciate it. The longer summary below provides more details about the history of the Dino Trail and further support for each of the above points.


Why the Brunswick Lake Park "Dino Trail" Should Not be Removed

Glen J. Kuban, May 28 - August 18, 2019

Introduction

The "Dino Trail," installed in 2012 and 2013 at Brunswick Lake Park* in Brunswick, Ohio, is a uniquely educational, fun, and scientifically important attraction. The almost 100 ft long, 4 ft wide concrete walkway showcases striding trackways of over a dozen species of dinosaurs from several different locations, plus other tracks and impressions from other prehistoric creatures. Indeed, as far as I know, the Trail represents more dinosaur species, geologic ages, and sites than any other track exhibit in the world. Included are many distinct and unusual dinosaur footprints from both well known and little known track sites. Many are in striding sequences, including several types of predatory and herbivorous dinosaurs, of both juveniles and adults.

Another key feature is that the tracks are arranged from oldest to youngest, so that visitors are essentially "walking through time" as they proceed up the walkway. It starts with some of the oldest (and clearest) tracks from the Triassic Period (over 200 million years old), featuring two parallel trails (a rare case of two dinosaurs walking side by side), and claw marks of crocodile-like phytosaurs. Continuing along the trackway, the various sizes and types of Jurassic section include those of two baby (hatchling) dinosaurs, and rare prints of a squatting dinosaur. The Cretaceous sections include the world's best tracks of theropods (bipedal, meat-eating dinosaurs) and giant sauropods (long-necked, four-legged "brontosaurs", a rare running track, and unusually elongate (heel-impressed) prints evidently made by a crouching (foraging?) ornithomimid ("Ostrich mimic") dinosaur. The last two sections feature a trail of wide, blunt-clawed Hadrosaur (duckbill dinosaur) tracks followed by a trail of Moa (giant flightless bird) tracks from New Zealand. The latter help illustrate that birds are now considered by paleontologists to not only be descendents of dinosaurs, but an actual branch of feathered dinosaurs.

My Interest and Involvement in the Dino Trail Project

I am an artist, semi-professional paleontologist, active dinosaur track researcher, and a former Brunswick resident and high-school science teacher. I have worked and written on dinosaur tracks for over 35 years. After becoming involved in the Dino Track project (explained further below) I spent many months of planning and work to bring it about, in close coordination with the now defunct Brunswick Artworks, a concrete contractor, and the City of Brunswick. The dozens of track molds used to produce the Dino Trail were made over the course of my field work on numerous track sites throughout the U.S., especially in Texas.

Origin of the "Dino Trail"

Several years ago I was honored when Rosemary Mihacevich, Founder and Executive Director of the Brunswick Artworks, asked me to speak to their group on the topics of Paleo Art (illustrating and reconstructing prehistoric creatures), and mold and cast making. Shortly afterward, Rosemary asked me about the possibility of installing a large dinosaur footprint cast at Brunswick Lake. Apparently she had already been discussing city officials the idea of creating some type of artistic or educational attraction there, to be sponsored by her group. I told her I thought it was a great idea. Before long, she suggested enlarging the project by including an entire striding trail of tracks, and later, multiple trails, to make it even more interesting, impressive, and educational. Eventually we agreed to include at least six different dinosaur trails from several different ages and sites (in the end, we included even more). I let her know that it would take considerable time and work to bring about, but that I would do it at a large discount in view of the Artworks' limited budget and the educational purpose of the Trail. In the end, the Artworks raised several thousand dollars for the project, allowing the city to avoid any significant cost.

While Rosemary kept in contact with city officials and Artworks members, and obtained City approval for the project plan in 2012 (after three years of work and meetings), most of the design and implementation details were left to me, except for the site preparation and concrete work, for which contractor Matt Seeley of "All Concrete Services" was engaged. I later learned that a generous donation to the Artworks for the project was also made by Charles B. Knapp on behalf of Amanda Knapp Melkowits.
Getting ready

How it was Done

The Dino Trail was made by pressing in dozens of rubber molds of actual dinosaur tracks, obtained during my many years of field work, as part of my documentation of dinosaur tracks, especially clear and unusual specimens. Each mold represents hours of field work. For the Dino Trail project, I spent hundreds of additional hours over many months designing the layout of the trackways and preparing the molds, which often involved remolding and recasting to adjust certain features (such as subduing undercuts) or creating mirror image molds when I had a good "right" or "left" foot mold, but not equally good opposite foot.

The few other outdoor dinosaur track exhibits used either all-sculpted tracks (which look less than natural), or pre-made individual track casts merged into concrete, which is extremely time consuming and labor intensive, and leaves seams that tend to open and crack with time. So, my plan was to press rubber track molds directly into damp concrete as it was setting - a method often used for cosmetic surface-texturing, but apparently had never before tried with dinosaur tracks. To confirm it would work, the contractor (Mr. Seeley) and I did a test pour in his workshop using a large track mold, which turned out very well. Next Matt's crew and I installed the upper end of the Dino Trail (hadrosaur and moa trackways), which also came out very well. However, I knew it would still be a challenge to press in scores more molds for the remaining 80 ft of walkway, if we did it all in one additional pour, which the contractor insisted on doing (since he was not making money as it was). To see photographs taken during and shortly after the Dino Trail installation, click here: http://paleo.cc/brunswick/Brunswick-tracks.htm

After a day of site prep (digging, framing, laying gravel, rebar girding, etc), the installation date turned out to be hot and sunny, causing the poured concrete to set faster than usual. However, with the molds laid out near their intended positions, and with the help of two fossil club friends (Carl Fechko and Beth Krumhansl) armed with the Trail diagrams, we were able to successfully press in all the molds, with the last ones pushed in with some difficulty, in just the nick of time. Adding to the challenge, during all this the crew had to apply powdered release agents to the concrete surface, and impress in large texturing mats, to make the surface look more natural. Afterward they also tinted each section to help delineate each geologic period, and to simulate the colors of the original track beds. The contractor also returned days later to apply a concrete sealer, which has helped the Trail remain in excellent condition for over six years.

Added Features (Benches and Interpretive Panel)

Local artist Greg Aliberti organized local school classes to paint dozens of ceramic tiles with pictures of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, onto steel and concrete benches built and donated by James Justice of "Architectural Justice," and installed at the end of the Trail. The costs for the tiles was defrayed by a grant from Medina Co. Community Fund of Akron Community Foundation. Undoubtedly the children were proud of their artwork, which certainly adds to the interest of the Trail, besides giving a useful place to relax.

After the Dino Trail was installed, I began work on an interpretive panel to help visitors understand what it was, and which creatures made which impressions. I spent several days precisely mapping each track and marking on the Trail to constrict a scale diagram of the entire walkway, which I used as the central figure in the panel, adding hand-drawn illustrations of descriptions of the dinosaurs and other creatures associated with each track type. This work-up was submitted to Glenn Somodi of EYEMG for final the graphics layout, and production of the 3 x 5 ft finished panel, which was mounted in a sturdy wooden frame at the start of the trail.

Public Reception of Trail

In the six years since it was installed, the Dino Trail has been enjoyed by countless residents and visitors, including students, teachers, and professional scientists, where it helps them learn (or teach) about dinosaurs and their behaviors. Whenever I am at the site, many adults and children often comment on how interesting and "cool" it is.

Unfortunately, many Brunswick residents did not even know about the Dino Trail (at least until recent publicity about removal plans), since it has never been properly marked or publicized. There is no sign about it on Rt 303 or the access road, nor is it mentioned on the park web site, or at the Nature Center (on on the large park map at the entrance to the center) on the other side of the Lake. As far as I know, there also was no ribbon-cutting ceremony, newspaper articles, or TV coverage announcing the installation of the Dino Trail, as the Artworks people and I anticipated would be done.

I also trusted that at least a small parking area would be added to that part of the park, and a picnic table or two, to make it easier for visitors (especially parents and teachers with students) to access and enjoy the area, and have a place to write, eat lunch, etc. If even some of these things were done, the trail could well become one of the most popular dinosaur-theme exhibits in the city and county, if not the state. I am not sure why none were done. Cost can't be the whole explanation, since things like mentioning the Trail on the website, or marking it on the Nature Center entrance map, would be easy and inexpensive. I myself became very busy with many other things, and regret not having followed up with the Artworks and city officials. I also intended (and still do) to create a teacher's guide with more information about the tracks and aspects not covered on the sign, including some exercises for students (such as measuring tracks and using a formula to estimate dinosaur speeds). Ironically, I took heart in the thought that sooner or later these would all get done, since after all, the Dino Trail would always be there. Never did I dream that after all the planning and work involved in bringing the Dino Trail about, and all the obvious benefits to the Trail, anyone would propose removing it.

Value and Benefits of the Trail

The intrinsic value of the trail is substantial, and its intangible value (in terms of interest, education, etc) even greater. Even though no public funds were used for the project, the Artworks (with help of a $900 Medina Connunity Fund grant) raised about $13,000 total to cover the cost of the project. A museum or park would typically pay far more for a similar attraction, but again, there is nothing quite like the Dino Trail anywhere, and it's hard to put price on that. Moreover, it has substantian conomic benefits to the community, since many people who come to see the Trail spend money at nearby shops and restaurants, and many more undoubtedly would if it were better marked and publicized. Indeed, it is likely that once it becomes more widely known (assuming it is not remove), many people would come not just from Brunswick, but surrounding towns and beyond. Even more valuable in my view are its intangible benefits. It helps stimulate curiosity and imagination about past life, teach about dinosaurs and their behavior, and generally promote interest in science and paleontology. Removing it, whatever the financial expense, would cost the loss of all this, invalidate all the work of so many in bringing the attraction about, including the many children who helped create the bench tiles --all undoubtedly trusting that the Trail their artistic contribution would be kept and enjoyed for many years to come.

Proposed Plan to Remove or Move the Dino Trail

Ironically, right after I gave a presentation on dinosaur tracks to the North Coast Fossil Club on May 18th, a guest at the meeting mentioned a Brunswick Post article published the very same morning, revealing plans by Medina County Park District director Nate Eppink to remove the Dino Trail. I and many others who in attendance were shocked at this news, since many were were familiar with the Trail, including many parents, teachers, museum personnel, etc. shared my feelings about how unique, educational, and valuable it is. After I read the article, the rationales for wanting to remove or move it seemed weak and poorly founded at best.

Objections to the Dino Trail

"People don't think the Trail belongs in the Park"

Comments to this effect have been made by a few officials, who indicated that this was the conclusion after three "planning meetings" by an ad-hoc committee in 2018. However, evidently this was based on a few minor concerns raised about the Trail (such as it's being a possible trip hazard) by a handful of attendees. Reportedly only about 20 - 25 people attended the meetings, out of approx. 35,000 residents in Brunswick, and 175,000 in Medina Co. Moreover, we don't know how many had even visited the Trail, and it's unlikely that many if any knew many of the details about the origin and unique attributes of the Trail outlined above. Evidently no one involved in the original project was contacted for input or expertise. I for one did not even know about the meetings. Moreover, others who attended them have reported that they favored keeping the Trail (though not all spoke out at the time). Furthermore, apparently there was little if any exploration of ways to address concerns without removing the Trail (discussed below). During and after the meetings, suggestions were evidently made that perhaps the Trail could be moved to another park, without research or discussion of the costs, breakage risks, and other downsides of that, or confirmation of who would pay for it. Thus, it's very possible that some attendees may have gone along with the overall plan because they thought the Trail could be safely or easily moved, which is far from the case (discussed in more detail below). Finally, of the 20 or so people at the meetings who reportedly voted for the overall plan, there is no way to know how many if any wanted the Trail removed (other than the three officials currently advocating that), since that was never voted on separately. Indeed, it's likely that many voted for the plan if they liked most of it, even if they didn't like other aspects, such as the proposed dinosaur trail removal.

Most importantly, whatever ideas or conclusions came out of the planning meetings, which I am sure well-intentioned and included some good elements, it evidently significantly underestimated the benefits and overall popularity of the Dino Trail. Indeed, of the hundreds of visitors I have met and talked with at the Trail over the last six years, virtually all have strongly supported it, many with glowing comments. Likewise, on June 21, when I attended the annual parade in Brunswick and spoke to scores more people about the Trail, including many families with children, of those who had visited the Trail or knew about it (sadly only about half had), the vast majority were overwhelmingly supportive. I even met one of the students who painted the bench tiles, who was shocked and saddened to learn of the Trail removal plans. When I visited the Trail after the parade, I met several more families there who were clearly enjoying the Trail, one with an especially enthusiastic little girl who invited me to photograph her foot and "dinosaur socks" next to a footprint (shown below with permission of her parents). Many others have reported similar experiences and sentiments, such as many who have spoken out at recent Brunswick City Council meetings (including parents, teachers, museum workers, a church group, etc), plus over 150 people (and counting) who have signed a petition to keep the tracks. As I expressed at one of the meetings, if anyone has any doubts about overwhelming popularity of the Trail, they can readily confirm it for themselves by hanging out at the Trail for a couple hours or so (especially on a busy weekend or summer evening), observing and chatting with people who come by.

"Hasn't been well maintained"

I was surprised to see this comment by Mr. Eppink in a Post article, since the Trail requires very little maintenance, other than (if desired) occasionally sweeping off any bird droppings or minor debris. Even those tend to be naturally washed off with each heavy rain. In short, the trail is virtually self-maintaining, and certainly requires less maintenance than any other things in the park, as well as most of the additions proposed in the "Master Plan." Moreover, if someone felt the tracks were not being cleaned often enough, or needed some other minor maintenance, the simple solution would be to remedy that, rather than remove the tracks. After all, no one is proposing that garbage cans be removed because they occasionally overflow.

That said, every few years the tracks should probably be evaluated for possible re-sealing needs, or any developing cracks, which would be fairly easy and inexpensive to fix. However, since their installation the tracks have held up very well, and show no significant cracks or signs or deterioration. That is not surprising, since they were made of high strength concrete, and a high quality sealant was applied afterward. Superficial sediment does tend to accumulate in the bottoms of the tracks, as it would in nature, and thus give them a darker tint, but this just highlight the track shapes, and thus may be considered more of a positive than negative. Finally, if MCPD did not want to do the occasional minor maintenance on the Trail, I'd be glad to do it myself, or recruit some volunteers to do so. I suspect it would not be hard to find some willing students, especially if given some class or extra credit.

"Not consistent with 'naturalization'"

This objection seems strained at best, since the Dino Trail is no more "unnatural," and arguably more natural (as part of "natural history") than many other things in and around the park (stores, restaurants, roads, a dam, etc), and most of the new things proposed for the park, including rest rooms, canoe and kayak ramps, a fishing platform, fountain, more picnic tables, and new a playground with "climbing structures." These are all fine with me, but how are any more "natural" than the Dino Trail?

Even the tall grass "prairie", evidently proposed at least in part to minimize the amount of grass that needs mowing, is not entirely natural (since the area was not originally a grassland or prairie, but a woodland). It would also be far from maintenance or hazard free. Whereas a prairie might be sustained in a large state or county park, in a relatively small city park like Brunswick Lake, letting grass grow unfettered in "much of the East side" would significantly reduce the useable space there, while becoming a likely haven for snakes, rodents, and deer ticks (which carry Lyme disease), as well as a potential fire hazard and area for litter and debris to collect. Similar problems have occurred in other small parks where grass fields have not been regularly mowed (whether intentionally or not). Moreover, in larger parks where tall-grass areas might be justified, they require periodic control-burnings, but in a small park such burnings would be virtually impossible to do without generating a lot of unwanted, unhealthy smoke, and distress to local residents and park visitors.

Moreover, almost all city parks have attractions often including artistic or historic attractions and monuments, which are widely enjoyed and valued as assets by visitors, not detriments. Indeed, dinosaur related attractions are usually among the most popular, especially with kids. What kids doesn't love anything "dinosaur"? I was recently at the Miller Reserve of the Loran Metro parks (to help with a "Dinosaur Discoveries" program). The park grounds include several prehistoric-theme displays, including dinosaur statues and a "plesiosaur" (prehistoric sea-monster-like creature) mounted in a pond next to the nature center and patio. No one argues that any of these should be removed because they aren't entirely "natural," or occasionally need a little maintenance, or because someone might occasionally stumble on or around them, which brings up the next issue.

"Trip hazard"

Mr. Eppink opined in the May 18 Post article that his first impression was that the tracks could be a "trip hazard." While there are ways to largely eliminate any possible trip hazard (outlined below), I do not believe the tracks are a significant hazard. Most are quite shallow (many less than an inch deep, and most less than 2 incles). Even a few of the larger tracks in the middle (Cretaceous) section that are a little deeper (but still far shallower than the original ones they were made from, since we did not press them in as deeply. Moreover, the Trail is at least as safe as many other things in the Park (or most parks for that matter). These include the many playgrounds, where children have accidents and injuries every year, without calls for them to be removed. Likewise, there are many things in the park that people are at least as likely to trip over as the dino tracks, including sewer grates, road curbs, and the many ruts, holes, tree roots, and rocks in the grass and shorelines, many of which are often hard to see, in contrast to the dinosaur tracks, which are in plain view.

Other potential hazards in the park include the often slippery bank or algae covered rocks along it, but no one has suggested draining and filling the lake because of them. Ironically, the proposed new playground and "climbing structures" will probably be considerably more hazardous than the Dino Trail, with injuries more frequent and potentially serious. The same can be said about the proposed fishing peers, boat docks, etc, where slips falls (especially when wet) could even result not just in injuries, but drownings. I'm not objecting to any of these items, just pointing out apparent inconsistencies, and the fact that overall, the Dino Trail is one of the safest things in the park or planned for it, besides being very unique, educational, and low-maintenance, which none of the other things are.

I might also mention, to drive home the above points, that many of the original dinosaur footprints from which the Dino Trail molds were made, occured in riverbeds and other places where many more (often hundreds more) tracks are found, and where most are far deeper than any in the Dino Trail. Moreover, many are often partly obscured under murky water or mud, and/or accessible only by scaling down steep embankments, or crawling over and around large, sharp and/or slippery rocks. Despite all these hazards, which collectively are many times more numerous and serious than any on the Dino Trail, every year thousands of visitors trapse all around and over the tracks, with very few accidents or injuries even over 50 years, and no one suggesting that the tracks be removed or relocated. Indeed, they are widely hailed as a wonderful part of natural history for people to enjoy and learn from.

An even more poignant illustration of how weak and inconsistent "trip hazard" objection is, a few years ago a "mountain bike skills course" was installed at Huffman Park in Medina (after approval by City Council). The winding course consists of a series of obstacles, ladder bridges, 'skinnies' (narrow platforms that drop off on both sides), and moguls (bumps and hills for riders to speed over, often becoming airborne in the process), as shown in recent TV coverage. I realize that this is a city rather than county park; however, the point is that the bike course is undoubetly many times more hazardous (and maintenance demanding) than the Dino Trail, yet the course has been lauded by reporters and government officials as a fun and valuable addition to the park. Again, I am not arguing against the bike course or other park attractions, just pointing out some glaring inconsistencies in the way some have unfairly portrayed the Dino Trail.

Last, if any city officials really thought the Trail was a significant trip hazard, it's curious that nothing has been done to address the concern in over six years since its installation, even though a number of low-tech, low cost solutions were and still are available. These could include 1. Installing a prominent sign that reads: "Walk Carefully and Do not Run on the Trail" an 2. Adding a swath of concrete or gravel on one or both sides of the Trail, so that visitors could walk on it instead of the Trail itself (although even as it is, they can walk on the grass alongside it). In conjunction with the side-path, a sign could instryct visitors to please walk on the side path. Neither of these would ost much, and wWith a public funding campaign, or appeals to a contractor in exchange for his name being shown on the site, one or both could probably be done at no cost to the city or MCPD. Other ways (slightly more complicated) to further eliminate any trip hazard are outlined in the Appendix. Keep in mind that insisting that any park element be 100% safe is not reasonable, otherwise one could not have playgrounds, as well as most of the new things MCPD wants to add to the park.

3. Partially fill the bottoms of the deeper tracks to further reduce their depth. I'd be willing to do this at my own expense (which would take quite a bit of time to create proper bonds with the filler material, and match colors and textures). However, the shallower the larger tracks are made, the less natural, realistic, and impressive-looking they will be. Thus, I believe that significantly altering some of the tracks will have more downsides than upsides. After all, they are dinosaur tracks, so trying to make them as shallow as possible somewhat defeats the purpose of the display, undermining their dramatic appearance and educational value.

4. The middle section with the deepest tracks could be replaced with fewer and shallower tracks. This would take some work, but still be be cheaper, easier, and more sensible than removing the Trail, or trying to move it. But again, they larger tracks need some depth (at least a couple inches), to retain their natural and impressive appearance. If a decision was made to redo this section, I believe it could be done for little or no cost to MCPD or City of Brunswick by using a public funding campaign (perhaps a GoFundMe page). Many people are eager to contribute to educational causes like this.

"Possible slip hazard"

In a recent Post aricle City Manager Carl DeForest (who participated in the planning meetings) was quoted as saying the Trail could also be a possible "slip hazard" when wet. While it's true that during or after a rain one must be careful when navigating any hard surface (including the proposed new boat ramps, fishing peer, and climbing structures), any concerns about slipping on the Dino Trail can be resolved with either or both of the first two of the trip-hazard remedies noted above. If a side path were added, a gravel path or textured concrete path would largely eliminate any possible slip issue. Another easy and low cost solution would be to reseal the concrete, with some fine grit included in the sealing compound.

Significant Costs and Risk of Removing or Trying to Move the Trail

R Removing the trail will not only be a loss of a valuable asset to the park, but also entail major unnecessary cost and labor. Attempting to move it to another park as some have suggested could be done, will be extremely expensive and labor intensive, and entail serious risks of breakage and other problems. That's besides the question of who would pay for it, or how. Moreover, if the Trail really were a significant trip hazard (which it isn't), or require excessive maintenance (which it doesn't), moving it elsewhere would just would just move the same issues elsewhere, which makes no sense. Moreover, Brunswick councilman Brian Ousley, who has extensive construction experience, confirmed that the Trail cannot be safely moved at any proce. Indeed, moving it would almost certainly result in significant breakage, and a lot of sliced up slabs that would be difficult precisely mate, securely bond, or keep from shifting and separating - thus seriously undermining its appearance and integrity. It would also therefore at best turn the currently solid, low-maintenance Trail into one likely to require frequent and costly maintenance. Among the many reasonds are the following:
Moa tracks and benches
Moa tracks and benches
Dinos at July council meeting

First, it would have to be carefully cut into many sections with a large industrial concrete saw. At best that would create many cut lines that do not follow the curved expansion seams on the walkway, making it hard to reconstruct without obvious lines or gaps. This would be especially problematic the first section, which is splayed more widely than the rest of the walkway. Even after being cut into sections, each section would weigh over a ton (since the concrete is 5-6 inches thick), and need to be carefully pried up with loaded into large trucks with heavy earth-moving equipment. These steps alone would pose significant breakage risk, even before transport to the new location, where jostling along the way would create more breakage risk, even if each slab were well padded. Of course, at the new location, the ground would have to be excavated and precisely graded to match the curves and topographic contours of the original location, which would be especially difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. Next, after gravel were laid down, each section would have carefully lowered, maneuvered into place, and either mated together with special bonding material, or have a complete underfloor of new cement laid down, before At best this would leave lots of ugly cut lines, which would tend to separate and shift with time. On top of that, new expansion lines would have to be cut (since the old ones were curved and could not be used), resulting in even ugly and unnatural-looking grooves. To improve the integrity and stabiliy of the Trail, in could be positioned on top of a new layer of concrete, but this would require digging the foundation even deeper, and further increase the cost.

Mr. Eppink has suggested that perhaps "elements" of the Trail could be preserved at Brunswick Lake. However, as mentioned earlier, the Trail was designed to showcase several different periods of geologic time, arranged from oldest to youngest, so that visitors are essentially walking through time. Therefore removing part or most of the Trail would destroy this important attribute.

Additionally, evidently those making suggestions about moving the Trail have not yet thoroughly researched the costs and downsides noted above, or compared them to the costs, downsides, and benefits rebuilding it elsewhere rather than moving it. From my experience and research, I believe that moving it would be far more expensive and labor intensive than rebuilding it, plus yield inferior end results. Questions have also been raised about whether Medina Co. would pay rebuild or move the Trail to another Brunswick Park that they don't even own or manage (so far no officials from Medina or Brunswick have confirmed they would). The bottom line is, leaving the Trail in the park would be far better than either moving or rebuilding it, for all the reasons detailed above, especially the evidence that most people who know about the Trail like it and want it to stay.

Indeed, rather than spending lots of unnecessary time, work, and money to remove or move and likely damage such a valuable and popular attraction, these resources would be far better on better marking and publicizing the Trail, and installing some much needed parking spaces and picnic tables, which would make it a lot easier for families, teachers, scouts, and other groups to hold field trips and other events.

Recent Developments

A June 14 Medina Gazette article made many good points about the Trail and surrounding controversy, noting that I and others who spoke in the council meeting, which including Carl Fechko, president of the North Coast Fossil Club, and David Jarzen, a NCFC member and paleontologist from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, wanted it kept the Trail "in some capacity". Just to a void any possible misunderstanding, I'd like to clarify that what we strongly argued for is keeping the Trail in place at the park, and in its entirety, for all the reasons noted above. The article ends with two troubling comments by Mr. Eppink, the first being that the Trail is "kinda in the vicinity of a restroom that we intend to replace there on the east side of the lake." Putting a restroom where the Trail exists now seems to be the weakest of all rationales for removing the Trail floated so far, since obviously there are many other places on east side where a restroom could go.

The second is Mr. Eppink's remark that the Trail is "a short walk to no where." This misses the important point that the gist the Trail is not where leads, but what's on it. Moreover, where the Trail leads to is a shady spot near the lake with two benches, covered in colorful prehistoric-theme ceramic tiles painted by local school children. In view of this, Mr. Eppink's remark not only unfairly diminishes the major educational value and many other benefits of the Trail, but also suggests a surprising insensitivity to the children, teachers, and artists involved in the bench project, everyone involved in the design and installation of the Trail itself, the officials who originally approved the project, and most importantly, the countless residents and visitors who greatly appreciate and enjoy it.

At other June and July council meetings a veritable parade of Dino Trail supporters appeared, including a surprise "invasion" of five dinosaurs at the July 22 meeting, who took part in the annual Brunswick parade. As reported the next day by Mellissa Martin in the Brunswick Post, and a few days later (July 26) article by Alyssa Alfano of the Medina Gazette, the the colorful reptiles were actually five church members in T.rex outfits. Their plain-clothed leader, Pastor Steve Girard, spoke strongly in favor of keeping the Dino Trail, noting that it was a wonderful educational tool being enjoyed by many parents and children in the community. In a June 23 "Off the Beaten Path" on-line column editorial by Ms. Martin, she went into more depth on the history of the Brunswick Lake Park and Dino Trail than other recent articles, and took firm stance in favor of keeping the Trail. She noted that a number of unfortunate things had happened in Brunswick in the past because too many people were apathetic and only complained after the fact, so she urged readers to "start speaking up."

The next day TV Ch 8/Fox news reporter Roosevelt Leftwich called me to ask if he could interview me at the Dino Trail. I agreed, and the spot was aired several times the next couple days. Before meeting with him, I was hoping he would record me explaining that the Trail was clearly liked by a large majority of park visitors. He didn't, but he didn't have to. That's because, as he was packing up to leave, several parents came by with about a dozen children. The parents said they did not want to interrupt what we were doing, but Mr. Leftwich called them all over, saying he wanted to film them too. Some said they had seen the Trail before, while others had not. All were clearly enjoying the tracks, with the kids as usual saying how "cool" they were. Before they left, another mom showed up with her four-year old boy toting a model dinosaur. She said she had recently heard about the Trail through a newspaper account, thought they were great, and would come back again with her son and others. As Mr. Leftwich departed, he commented, "You proved your point!".

On July 29, at a special Brunswick Council meeting before the August recess, Artworks founder Rosemary Mihacevich, and past president Barb Orbitz, came to argue in favor of keeping Trail in the park. Ms. Mahacevich explained how they organized and funded the project, requiring over three years persistence and hard work, and approx. $7000 in funds, most of it raised by their group. In a follow up email she said she checked her records, and verified that the total costs were actually cosniderably more, namely about $13,000. At the same meeting, councilman Joe DelSanter noted that since four of seven council members have publicly declared their support for keeping the Dino Trail, a resolution indicating this would be pursued as soon as possible, to be sent to MCPD as an official recommendation on the matter. Councilman Nick Hanek, who chaired the ad-hoc planning meetings, responded by urging everyone to examine the "master plan" more thoroughly, suggesting that if we did this everyone would be "wildly" enthusiastic about it. He added that we should not look at individual elements, only the whole plan. However, common sense dictates that addressing specific aspects (such as an important matter such as the Dino Trail and it's fate) is entirely proper and reasonable. His remarks also seemed a little ironic in that so far, no fleshed out or published plan has been presented to the council (and others present) by him or anyone else; all we've seen so far are sketchy outlines and ideas printed in newspaper accounts. If that's in part because aspects of the plan are still being developed or evaluated, I am am OK with that, since hopefully modifications will include reversing the Trail removal plans.

Dinosaur socks

Closing Thoughts

I am sure the 2018 planning meetings were held with all good intentions. I also appreciate that without initially having had all relevant information about the Trail, fully realizing the huge problems and downsides in trying to move it, or reliably gauging overall public sentiment about the Trail, some flawed ideas and imperfect plans could have arisen. However, now that much more is known about all of these things, including the widespread and ever-growing support for keeping the Trail in the park, hopefully Mr. Eppink will retract his remark, and more importantly, the Trail removal plans. We've often been told the plan is "not set in stone," so why not modify it accordingly? This were done, the park, City, County, and everyone concerned will win.

Of course, the converse is also true. If MCPD goes ahead and removes the Trail (or spends a lot of money trying to remove it, and ends up with a bunch of damaged, visually degraded, and unstable track slabs), without proper regard for the major benefits of the Trail, and the many children, parents, grandparents, teachers, and many others who greatly enjoy and value it, the result will be a likely PR disaster for the City of Brunswick, MCPD, the officials who caused it to happen or went along with it. Indeed, I remain optimistic that sooner or later (hopefully sooner) any remaining Trail detractors will not only stop seeing the Dino Trail in a negative light, and join countless others in recognizing it as a unique and valuable asset -- one not only worthy of being retained, but actively celebrated and promoted. To this end, it should be clearly marked on park road signs, prominently featured on the Brunswick Parks and MCPD web sites, included on the entrance map and literature at the Nature Center, as well as park information at the Chamber of Commerce, local libraries, and other venues Visitors could be invited to come and "Walk through time with the dinosaurs..." along the longest and most diverse cement walkway of dinosaur tracks at any park or museum in the world.

As Ms. Martin noted in her recent column, countless other parks have boat ramps, fishing peers, and playgrounds, but no other park has the Dino Trail. This begs the question: does it really make sense to spend time and money to remove (or try to move) one of the most unique, interesting and educational thing in the whole park and replace it with a new clump of trees or restroom (which can go almost anywher)? Speaking of trees, adding more to the park is fine, but instead of replacing the Dino Trail with any, why not keep the Trail and add nearby some prehistoric or "living fossil" trees such as Ginkgoes and Dawn Redwords, to make the attraction even more interesting and educational?

Moreover, if some parking spaces and picnic tables were also added on the East side of the park (which have long been needed, and will be even more needed for the planned park additions), the Dino Trail could well become one of the most popular sites for school and scouting field trips, family outings, dinosaur birthday parties, etc. and enhance other good reasons to visit the park. Beyond that, other possibilities include an annual "Dino Fest", featuring dinosaur-themed games, contests, traveling exhibits, etc, as other parks have done with great success. Not only would this be a great family-fun event, but if even only some of the proceeds from such a festival came back to the park, they'd help pay for other and future park improvements as well. Another "win-win!" Of course, the first priority is to make sure we don't loose the Trail.

Conclusion

When all relevant information is fully and fairly considered, the benefits of keeping the Dino Trail at Brunswick Lake far outweigh any possible downsides. Said another way, there is no compelling reason to remove of move the Trail, and many good reasons to keep it in Brunswick Lake Park. Rather than spending a lot of unnecessary time, work and money to remove (or try to move) one of the most unique, well liked, and educational features in the park system, efforts would be far better spent in the opposite direction: better marking and publicizing the Trail, so that it will become better known, appreciated, and enjoyed by even more people, while further boosting the local economy.

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If you agree, please let Brunswick officials and the Medina County Park District know. Time is of the essence, since Mr. Eppink has indicated that removing the trail is one of the first things he wants to do in his "Master Plan." Besides calling or emailing, please consider attending a meeting of the Brunswick City Council, which are open to all, and where anyone can express their view. The council normally meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7:30 pm at the Brunswick Municipal Center, 4095 Center Rd. (Rt 303), Brunswick Ohio, although council is off for the entire month of August, for a summer recess.

Thank you very much!

Glen Kuban
gkpaleo@yahoo.com
440-241-2509

Contact Info for MCPD Officials

Click here for Media County Park District web page (with email form)

Nate Eppink   email: neppink@medinaco.org     330-722-9364
Medina County Park District (MCPD) main phone#: 330-722-9364 or 844-722-9364 toll free

Medina Park Commissioners : Kathleen Davis, Andrew deLuna, Dennis B. Neate
Phone 330-722-9364 Email: parks@medinacountyparks.com

Medina Co. Park Planner
Haley Bondi. Email:   hbondi@medinaco.org

Mailing address for MCPD (send letters to attention of any or all of above officials)
Medina County Park District
6364 Deerview Lane
Medina, Ohio 44256

Contact Info for Brunswick City Officials

Brunswick City Council, Main phone: 330-558-6845
Brunswick Council President & Parks Committee chairman: Mike Abella:   mabella@brunswick.oh.us     330-460-6209
Brunswick City Manager: Carl DeForest:   cdeforest@brunswick.oh.us     330-558-6826
Brunswick Parks and Recreation Director: John Piepsny: jpiepsny@brunswich.oh.us     330-273-8000
Brunswick City Council web site (click on "Contact Us" at left for phone#s and email addresses)
All City of Brunswick officials contact info



Help "Save the Dino Trail" flier, which readers are encouraged to use as they like:
http://paleo.cc/brunswick/01-Save-Dino-Trail.jpg

Four-Option Summary on the Future of the Dino Trail
http://paleo.cc/brunswick/00-Future of Dino Trail.doc

July 26, 2019 Brunswick Gazette article about the T. rex invasion at the June 25 Council Meeting

For more photos of the Dino Trail, including some taken during installation see:
http://paleo.cc/brunswick/Brunswick-tracks.htm


Appendix A.

Additional ways to further reduce any perceived trip hazard. I do not feel either of these would be necessary if the earlier discussed methods were used, but I offer them in case anyone feels the need to further reduce any possible hazard.

A. Partially fill the bottoms of the deeper tracks to further reduce their depth. I'd be willing to do this at my own expense (which would take quite a bit of time to create proper bonds with the filler material, and match colors and textures). However, the shallower the larger tracks are made, the less natural, realistic, and impressive-looking they will be. Thus, I believe that significantly altering some of the tracks will have more downsides than upsides. After all, they are dinosaur tracks, so trying to make them as shallow as possible somewhat defeats the purpose of the display, undermining their dramatic appearance and educational value.

B. The Lower Cretaceous section with the deepest tracks could be replaced with fewer and shallower tracks. This would take some work, but still be be far cheaper, easier, and more sensible than removing the Trail, or trying to move it. But again, they larger tracks need some depth (at least a couple inches), to retain their natural and impressive appearance. If a decision was made to redo this section, I believe it could be done for little or no cost to MCPD or City of Brunswick by using a public funding campaign (perhaps a GoFundMe page). Many people are eager to contribute to educational causes like this.