Past Meets Future

Submitted by metroparks muse on Mon, 04/28/2008 - 19:41.

As part of its mission of conservation and preservation, Cleveland Metroparks should be a leader in promoting sustainability. Documenting and then decreasing utility and fuel use, cutting back on herbicides and pesticides, recycling beyond paper goods or state mandates - showing the way to greener lifestyles. Except for water conservation at the zoo and the purchase of a few hybrid SUVs (while still maintaining a huge stable of on and off road vehicles) there has been little effort to change.

One of the easiest steps is to "Leave well enough alone" to quote Ziggy. Undeveloped land does very well except for raging floodwaters with no place to go (often the result of human building.) Paved parking lots add to such runoff, plus needing maintenance. Building creep means more heating, cooling, lighting and cables.

Metroparks roadsides lined with signs (and ads!) are unattractive; the signs bases are sprayed to control wisps of weeds. Less land maintenance means fewer employees resulting in smaller buildings and fewer vehicles. The Grow Not Mow program was a good start, but much more could be done. Regulations could be listed just at the entrance (as done in other parks); parking lots could be pervious materials.

One project could be undertaken immediately. Frostville Historical Society in Rocky River Reservation is planning to install four permanent flush toilets in an old garage. To do this they will have to install a pump station and force main (EPA permit #626329, open comment period until 5/10/08) to pump the sewage up out of the valley, around the top and then back down to the treatment plant. For four toilets - and they may still need added temporary facilities for events. 



How about using Romtec type restrooms which are working well elsewhere, and treating the graywater onsite in a demonstration program (great teaching opportunity!) - thus saving water and energy, not to speak of money. It will not affect pollution levels because the waste is already trucked to a treatment plant while the gray water can be absorbed slowly into the environment rather than being poured into a waterway. An appropriate low tech way for a historical village to function.

future outhouse.JPG67.83 KB

water and other fluids in metroparks


Thanks for the heads up on toilet building and water issues on the metroparks. Of course, I had no idea this was underway... One can only see so much.

Anyway, I looked up Romtec and here's what I found - waterless toilets! Brilliant! There would also be the option of composting toilets, but in NEO, that would be even more radical than these groovy solutions.

Please keep the news of our Emerald Necklace coming. We need all the help we can get to understand what's going on in what many of us assume is our greenest asset especially when it is looking less green with each post you contribute. I appreciate your reporting. I'll be checking realneo for update next time I prepare to vote for that levy...

Frostville Historical Society

 MM--Did you just take this picture?  What's going on here?  What's happening with these buildings?  They were relocated to this location, which was probably not an ideal location in the first place.  Like most historical societies, Olmsted Historical Society is probably hurting for funds and members to maintain buildings.  It's a sad sight/site. 

less is more

One of several affiliates, the Olmsted Historical Society is a non-profit located on Cleveland Metroparks land. From their '06 financials it appears they spent $41,000 to raise $23,000, but at year's end fund balances had gained $4,000. The numbers are confusing.

Fund raiser include pancake breakfasts, motorcycle and hot rod shows, civil war events, and a Halloween display which was hardly in keeping with respect for our past (not just my opinion.)

Most of the buildings are of local and historical interest; the most recently added 1920's garage (shown previously) does not appear to be.


But the decisions to install a force main/pump station there is especially questionable. On the surface it is an energy-demanding solution to a non-existent problem. At least two pumps will be needed and must be maintained permanently. I don't know if the garage will be heated - otherwise the toilets will need to be drained and winterized. If it is heated, it could prove attractive to vagrants as has happened in other locations. The Romtec type toilets are functional in all seasons without being heated.

Ironically, the future West Creek center is intended to focus on water issues, including conservation. Sewers are essential in cities but are not always the best solution in rural areas. Especially in this instance where black water can be properly treated off site while gray water is managed there. Think of this as a potential rain garden type demonstration. The kind of teaching exhibit they're proposing for West Creek. Balance that benefit against the cost of utilites and repairs for this 'improvement' and it seems that "Less is More." A fitting lesson to take from a site dedicated to our frugal forebearers.