Community leaders are unveiling improvements at McClelland Park that can be enjoyed by all.
Earlier this month, the National Wildlife Federation designated the park as a certified habitat. It’s a turnaround for a plot of nature that was often ignored. The changes at McClelland Park go unnoticed until you venture inside.
Mayor Joe Schember says, “McClelland Park is like a hidden gem here in Erie. I wish more and more people were aware of it, and would come here and experience it.”
The 56-acre park by McClelland Avenue is now home to more than a mile of trails. Along the routes, you’ll find meadows, woodlands, and wetlands. The trails are wheelchair accessible and guests are guided by new signage where you can choose your loop.
Tom Hiegel of the Sierra Club says, “You can park here and do a 10-minute walk. You can do a 20-minute walk or you can do the whole thing, which takes about 30-35 minutes.”
But, it wasn’t always a place you could do that. Community leaders describe a neglected park that was underutilized. In 2009, a master plan laid out a vision that today can be seen. “This is a wonderful place to bring a family,” Hiegel tells us. “It’s safe. The trails are accessible. It’s just a great day in the park.”
Several groups partnered with the city of Erie to rejuvenate the space. The Sierra Club volunteered and invested $10,000. But, even once cleaned up, the park initially lacked amenities. “And at first we didn’t have benches. We didn’t have nature signs and all that stuff.”
Now, there’s a dog park that was dedicated in 2015. They’re planting a bee garden, and there are plans for a nature center later on. “But we don’t want to over-improve it,” Heigel tells us, “It’s very important–the neighbors on Bird Drive and all that surround it–they want this place to be as primitive as possible.”
The Erie County Executive’s Office is developing a Greenway Project. You can give feedback about parks and other public spaces. The county is offering a survey through September 14th. For this, go to www.eriecountypaoutdoors.org and click ‘Tell Us Your Thoughts’.