After months of futile efforts by me and many others to convince MCPD to keep the Dino Trail in the park, at the September 9 Brunswick City Council meeting an announcement was made that a "new deal" had been struck by the Trail detractors and one of the councilmen, along with the Brunswick Area Historical Society, to move the Trail to their "Heritage Farm" site. This surprised and concerned me and many Trail advocates, since besides all the reason to leave the Trail in the Park, and lack of good reasons to remove it, no funding was assured this new plan. Moreover, as I and others had previously explained and documented, attempting to move it would entail many downsides (especially the liklihood of major damage) and far greater cost than rebuilding it (if it could not be left in the park). So, shortly afterward this meeting, a number of Trail supporters joined me in developing a new "new deal" to build a brand new (and even better) prehistoric Trail at Heritage Farm, with or without Brunswick or MCPD help.
This still leaves the question of what will happen to the existing Dino Trail at Brunswick Lake. Despite the apparent resolve of a few Trail detractors to remove the Trail, I for one still see no compelling reason to do so, especially since so many residents and visitors are enjoying and learning from it there. Moreover, there is no reason we can't have a "Dino Trail" at the park, and an even more comprehensive and educational "Trail Through Time" at Heritage Farm. However, If MCPD still insists on removing the existing Trail at the park, my suggestion would be for sections or trackways to be offered or auctioned off to interested parties, with priority to schools, museums, libraries, and educational organizations, and proceeds going to Heritage Farm. To me, it seeems like this would be the least they could do after forcing the Trail to be removed, despite being so well liked, and clearly a valuable asset to the park, and all the work and money many devoted to installing it there. If you agree, or have any other ideas or views you would like to express, I encourage you to share them with the city and MCPD officials, whose contact numbers are linked at the end of this summary.
Thank you very much.
* 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 greatly 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.
As of mid September, 2019, since MCPD director Nate Eppink and a few anti-Trail allies in Brunswick would not relent on their plans to remove the Trail, a large contingency of Trail supporters have developed plan to build a brand new Trail at Heritage Farm, and we are committed to raising sufficient funds to do this (readers are invited to help as they can).
In conclusion, the many benefits of the dinosaur Trail far outweigh any possible downsides. Rather than removing or trying to move it, MCPD should have better appreciated what a wonderful and fun attraction they inherited, and better marked and publicized it. Even though a new prehistoric Trail is now planned for Heritage Farm, the existing Trail could (and I think should) still be left at Brunswick Lake, since countless residents are still enjoying and learning from it there. Even though it seems unlikely that MCPD will allow this to continue much longer, I believe Heritage Farm will be a great home for a new and even better Trail. We plan to not only showcase many great dinosaur trackways like the current Trail, but also rare and important pre- and post-dinosaur tracks and fossils, including some fabulous ones from Ohio! The Society appears to be as excited as we are about creating this new "Trail Through Time", and developing many fun and educational programs around it (kids activities, field trips, an annual "Dino Fest", etc).
The longer summary below provides more details about the history of the Dino Trail and further support for each of the above points.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Even more perplexing, when several others took Hanek up on his suggestion and emailed Eppink to ask for the plan, or where we can see more details about it, those who received a reply were told by Epping that he couldn't find a "good home" to post it (as if the MCPD website would not be the perfect home). Moreover, even if he had no place to post it (which is absurd) it didn't explain why he didn't just send them the plan directly. If this is because aspects of the plan are still being developed or evaluated, I am OK with that, since hopefully modifications will include reversing the Trail removal plans (although so far there have been no signs of Eppink heading in that direction. Indeed, when I asked for the plan, Eppink's associate told me he would show it to me when we met. However, after initially agreeing to meet with me, when I tried to pin down a date and time, he stopped replying to my emails.
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!"
I was further disheartened that some newspaper stories afterward announced that the Trail had 'found a new home,' as if the matter was largely settled, painting the "new deal" as largely positive development that only I and a few others objected to, which is far from the case. One noted that "several" people had campaigned for keeping the Trail, without noting the over two dozen who had spoken up for that at council meetings, four councilmen who did the same, the scores more who have signed a petition, and hundreds more who have told me and others over the past 6 years that they very much like the Trail, with none saying they want it removed. The reporters quoted some of my comments above about the many good attributes of the Trail, but also quoted (as usual) a number of Mr. Eppink's weak and illogical rationales for removing the Trail, without any challenge or rebuttal, plus mentioned some new ones just as perplexing.
One of Eppink's new rationales for removing the Trail is that it doesn't didn't fit his desire to make the park more "passive." Besides being unclear what that means, one must wonder how his planned playground with "climbing structures," or boat ramps will be more passive than the Dino Trail. Another was that the Tail is an "under-utilized" feature in the park. Even if it were true, shouldn't he like that if he wants to park to be more passive? Moreover, to the extent the Trail may be "underutilized," it's only because the City never publicized it, which could be easily remedied. As it is, the Trail is already utilized quite well - being enjoyed by hundreds of residents and visitors every week, and even more will, as it becomes better known, unless MCPD ends up removing it. Adding to the ironies, the latest "plan map" shows two large "prairies" covering much of the east side of the park, ensuring that vast parts of the park would no longer be "utilized" by anyone, unless they want to risk getting bit rodents, snakes, chiggers, and Lyme Disease carrying deer ticks. He ends by saying he wants to "trade" the Trail for something better (without saying what), and that "makes sense." However, all his plan map shows in that area is a few new trees. So trading a highly unique, educational, and well-liked attraction for a clump of trees "makes sense?"
Interestingly, when I spoke with Ms. Boyer a week after the meeting, and gave her some background and info on the Trail, she agreed that she saw no good reason for moving it from the park, that she would be happy if it stayed there, and that the main reason she offered it a new home was to make sure it was not destroyed.
So, despite all the above, I and others, including council woman Andie Rodriguez, an ardent Trail supporter, planned to continue our efforts to keep the Trail in the park, and if that fails, try to get officials to recognize and act on the second best option, which is to have it rebuilt at another site (with Heritage Farm a good choice) rather waste far more money and invite major breakage and other problems trying to move it.
Recently, Nick Hanek announced on his Facebook page that he will hold a public meeting on Wed. Sept. 25 at 6:30 pm, the Brunswick Courthouse, to discuss plans and projects for Ward 2, and where Nate Eppink will discuss his plan for Brunswick Lake. He invited comments and questions from residents and other interested persons. Please try to attend. Hopefully a strong turn out will make it even more clear that it is already that most people familiar with the Trail like it and still want it to stay in the park, and perhaps finally convince officials to respect that and act accordingly. ADD:
Of course what my email (which was sent to all Brunswick officials, Mr. Eppink, and others concerned with the issue) is that many Trail supporters hade joined me in rejecting the recent "new deal" to move the Trail to Heritage Farm, and instead developed a plan to build a brand new prehistoric Trail (to be tentatively called "Trail Through Time") at Heritage Farm, with or without Brunswick or MCPD help. I could have cleared these questions up at the meeting, except that before it started Mr. Hanek announced that only Brunswick residents were allowed to speak or ask questions (despite is Facebook announcement indicating that any interested parties were invited to do so).
The next day council woman Andre Rodriguez, who has been an ardent Dino Trail supporter since first learning about it, sent a very supportive message about the plan to build a new Trail at Heritage Farm. Joe Deslanter also sent reply indicating his pleasure with this plan and the efforts of Trail supporters, to which Nick Hanek sent a reply saying he agreed with Joe.
So, even though I and others still feel the best course would have been (and still is) to leave the Trail in the park, since MCPD and his few fellow Trail detractors would not relent on their plan to remove the Trail, and the "new deal" to move it was neither cost effective nor likely to yield good results, aside from the lack of assured funding, Trail supporters worked out the best alternative plan: building a new and even better one at Heritage Farm. So far this new plan has been well received, although we need to secure official approval from the Historical Society and the City, and of course, to raise funding.
This still leaves the question of what will happen to the existing Dino Trail at Brunswick Lake. I for one still see no good reason to remove it, since many are still enjoying and learning from it there, but if MCPD insists on doing so anyway, then I suggest that sections of it should be cut (or allowed to be cut with those equipped to do so) and offered or auctioned off to schools, museums, libraries, or other worthwhile or educational organizations, with any proceeds going to Heritage Farm. While trying to move and reassemble the entire Trail is not feasible or cost effective, making at least parts of it available to others (especially if they are willing to do the cutting or moving) makes more sense than simply bashing it up and hauling it to a landfill, especially after all the time, work, and money originally spent (with city approval) to install it in the first place. Moreover, if the Trail itself cannot be kept in the park, then I trust that MCPD and Brunswick will turn the Interpretive Panel over to Heritage Farm (since they will have no further use for it), and ate tile benches to be relocated at Heritage Farm (or kept in the park), rather than destroying those too.
If you agree, or have any other ideas or views you would like to express, I encourage you to share them with the city and MCPD officials, whose contact numbers are linked at the end of this summary.
September Update. Since a plan is now afoot to build a new prehistoric Trail at Heritage Farm, I hope if MCPD carries out their plan to remove the existing Trail from Brunswick Lake, that at least parts of the Trail will be offerred or auctioned off to existing parties, especially educational organizations. Although it appears alikely that MCPD will remove the Trail one way or the other from Brunswick Lake, I am happy about the prospect of a new and even more educational Trail at Heritage Farm, wherere all of the above educational activities and more can be provided there, and am looking forward to helping bring this about. Information will be provided in the near future for ways you too can help make this a reality.
To express your views on these matters to Brunswick officials and the Medina County Park District, their contact numnbers are provided below. You may also wish to attend a meeting of the Brunswick City Council, which are open to all, and where anyone can express their views (with a 5 minute time limite). 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.
Thank you very much!
Nate Eppink, MCPD Director.   email: email@example.com     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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Medina Co. Park Planner
Haley Bondi. Email:   email@example.com
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
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:
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.