Browse Interviews

  • Collection: Rivers Roads and Rails: West Creek and Cuyahoga River
77 total

Lester Williams interview, 28 June 2006

Lester gives an well-rounded history of the town of Dover, Ohio. His interest in and appreciation for Dover's history and history in general stems from the work his family has done in this field. The subjects he discusses are vast in scope. Everything from racial discrimination to the Ohio Canal are discussed in detail as they pertain to Dover. Interview was conducted by various members of the Rivers Roads and Rails (TAH Project) Dover team.

Jacqueline Graef and Jane Schooff interview, 28 June 2006

Jacqueline and Jane discuss various aspects of the Moravian Church and its role in Dover's history. They discuss indepth the history of the church, special ceremonies, the foundation of the church, and how the church has played a significant role in the town's development. Interview was conducted by various members of the Rivers Roads and Rails (TAH Project) Dover team.

Tim Atkinson Interview, 2008

An equipment operator and work leader, Tim Atkinson his role in the Park staff. Discussed are the means by which Atkinson evolved from a volunteer position to a leader in various projects and the challenges posed to staff personell. These include the seasonality of trails, seasonality of staffing, and the extensive flooding damage to the Towpath. Atkinson discusses also the successes of the Towpath project in terms of improving the quality of life and the ability of the visitor centeer to…

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Jeff Lennartz Interview, 2008

Jeff Lennartz, acting treasurer of the West Creek Preservation Committee and a development engineer, addresses viable fundraising and economic issues facing the group and the effects on projects. Accompanying this discussion are the social, political, and fiscal challenges that are at the core of preservation and conservation and the impact they have had on the work of Lennartz.

Jon Elsasser Interview, 2008

Jon Elsasser is the president of the Zoar Board of the Ohio & Erie Canal Association and Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at The Timken Company. Elsasser discusses Towpath Trail surfacing and bridge repairs after the 2005 flood and his hope that the trail will move beyond Zoar. He also discusses the semi-annual Civil War reenactment; town hall renovation; cemetery improvements; and other projects.

David Whited Interview, 24 June, 2008

David Whited is Chief of Planning & Development for Summit County Metro Parks. Trained in Landscape Architecture, Whited oversees new bike trails, towpath completion, and land acquisitions. In this interview, he discusses Munroe Falls, Nature Realm, and plans to develop Cascade Valley Park. He provides some of the history of Summit Metro Parks, including the park district's reputation as one of the oldest, largest, and most influential in the area of land conservation. He describes the problems…

Jim Biggar Interview, 2008

Jim Biggar discusses his background in mechanical engineering and work with water and sewer companies and projects. Biggar discusses also the development of Stouffer and Biggar Farms and their creation as park land. Biggar Farm's transformation into Glen Cairn Forest is also discussed, with an emphasis on connecting local residents to park trails.

Randy Bergdorf Interview, 2008

Randy Bergdorf reflects on his role in the 1992 study for the funding of roads and his work on the Towpath Trail project. A library employee with a passion for history, Bergdorf discusses his passion for preserving and relating the history of the park to citizens. Challenges to this and other endeavors such as the Roads Project include the inability to tax local residents, since the park owns many of the houses.

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Christine Freitag Interview, 2008

Christine Freitag, curator of Botany at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and native of Akron talks about her work with Ohio's conservation effort, focusing primarily on the the impact on the natural landscape, wildlife, and environment in the region.

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Irene Toth Interview, 2008

Irene Toth, a member of the board of trusttees of WCPC and an amatuer historian discusses both the history of the West Creek area and her life in Cleveland since 1928. Also discussed are the positive environmental effects of the project and the social identification of the "naturalist group" she is a part of. Toth also examines the group's future and transition from a single-issue committee to a conservancy advocate.

John Debo interview, 2008

John Debo is Superintendent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. He talks about the influence of Earth Day and the environmental movement on his decision to seek a job in the National Park Service. He arrived to take a summer job at what was then the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area having never visited. He discusses the state of the park in the 1970s and the work done there in the 1970s-90s. He discusses the Towpath Trail, Environmental Education Center, the formation and early work of the…

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Dean Perry Interview, 24 June, 2008

Dean Perry was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and moved to northeastern Ohio as a child. Perry began working as a seasonal motor vehicle operator in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the early 1980s and eventually worked his way up to supervisor of grounds and trails. Perry discusses the remedial work required restore the Canal Visitor Center and the Towpath Trail from their state of abandonment, as well as the restorations of Gleason Farm and Everett Village. He also describes the impacts of a…

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Thomas Yablonsky Interview, 2008

Involved in historic development in Cleveland, especially the warehouse district and gateway district, Cleveland native Thomas Yablonsky discusses the Ohio and Erie Canal He is on the Ohio and Erie Canal association board as well as the Ohio canal corridor. He also discusses the changes and developments in the Tremont region.

Anthony Spzak Interview, 2008

Active in pressuring Parma's City Council in the late 1960s and 1970s, Anthony Spzak reflects on his past work to improve the landfill conditions of the city in order to protect his children and family. Motivated again by health in relation to sewage, Spzak discusses his motivation for working with WCPC to halt the building of a golf course and to the adverse affects of poorly managed drainage systems. Spzak's interview notes the correlation between issues pertaining to public health and the…

Walter Herip Interview, 2008

The President, Creative Director, and Project Coordinator of Herip Design Associates, Walt Herip discusses the economic and historical developmental changes of the Penninsula since 1970. After his graduate studies in Europe ended in 1976, Herip began his company in 1980 and was chosen to design the 25th anniversary logo for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

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Bridget Garvin Interview, 24 June, 2008

Bridget Garvin gives background, childhood memories in Toledo, and inspiration to work in the perservation field. Describes Cascade Locks,including some history, benefits, and passion to curb suburban sprawl.Garvin notes some milestones in using the Cascade Locks to link the city as a boost to the economy, rather then just a park. Discusses fundraising challenges, donors, political supporters.Virginia Wojno-Forney began the project and Garvin picked it up in 2001. Describes Cascade Mill, and…

Bob Hunker Interview, 2008

Bob Hunker discusses the creation of the Peninsula Group with the intention of preserving Valley buildings and heritage. Hunker reflects on his work in the preservation of Bronson Church and the historical development and changes to the organization and preservation endeavors in Cleveland. The Cuyahoga Valley Heritage Association as it is now known is discussed, with the goal being the balance between preservation and development. Hunker also discusses challenges posed to his organization, such…

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Ron White Interview, 2008

Ron White discusses his work as the Director of Economic Development for the city of Independence and emphasizes how local environmental projects are affecting his city particularly. White discusses how the regional developmental projects are connected intrinsically to the city's "two year plan," which includes property development, land and building restoration, and wildlife and green space conservation. Overall, White articulates how the economic and social future of the city is connected to…

Louise Nahas Interview,2008

A New York native, Louise Nahas reflects on her exploration of the park trails with friends as well as her husband. The two of them, volunteers at the Happy Days Visitor Center, experienced the ever-widening geographical radius of visitors to the park and the variety of programming. Nahas also discussed challenges in budgeting as well as the growing need for volunteers which facilitated the beginning of the Trailblazer Program to increase volunteer services and membership within the…

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Jim Kastelic Interview, 19 June 2008

A graduate of Kent State University in urban geography, Jim Kastlic outlines his vision for reconstructing the towpath trail. Centered around the national park, Kastlic outlines how the towpath can provide Cleveland with a sense of history, economic opportunites through tourism, and how the towpath falls in line with new residential visions. This path, a utilization of the natural landscape in an urban setting, he belives, is vital to Cleveland's future.

Patty Schwalbach Interview, 2008

Patty Schwalbach grew up in Akron in the 1950s-70s and returned in 2005 after 25 years in Los Angeles. She describes her work in the late 1970s in the Akron housing department and the condition of Akron's Cascade Locks Park at that time. She discusses how a man named Pete Ramnytz was the first to see Cascade Locks' potential. Upon Schwalbach's return to Akron, she became involved in the effort to save the Mustill Store. She relates the history of the canal and lock system and shares her thoughts…

Steve Tuckerman Interview, 2008

An employee of the Ohio EPA, Steve Tuckerman discusses his work in managing water quality in Ohio and his current work in improving the Cuyahoga River watershed. As an employee of the EPA, Tuckerman outlines the goals of the EPA in maintaining dams and other watersheds in the area, including the protection of habitats for wildlife and ensuring environmental safety for citizens. Tuckerman also outlines the improvements that his organization has made in Northeast Ohio as well as some of the…

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Tom and Bertha Jones Interview, 24 June, 2008

Tom and Bertha Jones are longtime residents of the Cuyahoga County in Summit County. Tom and his father built Tamson Park in Peninsula, while Bertha was a township clerk. When the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was formed, the Joneses sold their home to the NPS, accepted a twenty-year residency, and now rent from the park. In this interview they share early memories of the Cuyahoga Valley, including social life in Peninsula in the 1940s-50s, the trains that ran through the village, and how…

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Irv and Dorothy Hazel Interview, 2008

Irv and Dorothy Hazel discuss their work with the West Creek Conservation effort, primarily focusing on their roles as contributors. The interview focuses great attention on the origin of the organization and discusses critical fundraising, financial, legal, and environmental concerns within the internal controls of the group. Briefly, the couple puts the West Creek conservation effort into the broader context of Cleveland history and the impact of environmental issues on the local economy and…

Robert Greytak Interview, 2008

Robert Greytak, a resident of Parma and graduate of CSU's civil engineering program, discusses his leadership of and work with the West Creek Reservation Committee. While focusing primarily on fundraising and the arduous process of receiving grants, Greytak also details his rise in the organization and his passion for environmental conservation. As environmental concerns increase with each passing year, Greytak's discussion of fundraising and grant acquisition for enviromental projects is placed…

Tom Fritsch Interview, 2008

Tom Fritsch works in the Akron Metro Area Transportation Study (AMATS) division of the City of Akron, mapping short- and long-range plans for federal funding. He became an environmental activist in college, motivated by an article in the Akron Beacon Journal. Fritsch conducted school-bus tours of the park for children, helped in the Beaver Pond and other park cleanup projects, and joined a chapter of the Sierra Club to help preserve the Cuyahoga Valley. He was directly involved in developing…

Ellen Otto Interview, 2008

Ellen Otto of the Cascade Locks Park Association relates the history of the Cascade Locks area of Akron, including the Irish and German immigrants who built the Ohio Canal, the Great Migration in which African Americans brought jazz to the Howard Street district near the canal in the interwar years of the early-mid 20th century, her own family's stories about life in the area, and the later collaborative campaign to create Cascade Locks Park in Akron. She also discusses a 1995 reenactment at the…

Robert Eckardt Interview, 2008

Robert Eckardt of the Cleveland Foundation discusses his work in the fundraising and grant writing for the creation of National Parks in Northeast Ohio. Echardt discusses in detail the Trust for Public Land grant and the role of the Cleveland Foundation in securing land for National Parks in the recent years. The interview also discusses newer projects such as the Towpath Project and citizen awareness in land preservation.

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Tom Long Interview, 2008

Tom Long, a design and parks development expert, discusses a city/park partnership working towards completing eight developmental units, including plans for the Towpath Trail along the Ohio Canal. Birth of the Cascade Locks Park Association and the movement toward the parks' grand opening as more organizations got involved, fundraising for the Schumacher Mill Site restoration and waterwheel project, and plans for the Richard Howe house. He also discusses the role of the park in economic…

Pat White Interview, 2008

Pat White, a former mayor of Bolivar, Ohio, got involved in the Ohio Canal project through Dick Lebold. As Mayor, she supported the project despite the cost overruns and slow pace because of what she viewed as its commercial, employment, and public advantages. She lists various fund-raising events, discusses grant funds for park purchase, and how the EPA limited the negative impact of a landfill on the area.

Elaine Marsh Interview, 2008

Elaine Marsh of the Friends of the Crooked River talks about growing up in Cleveland and moving to Independence as a teenager in 1959. She recalls canoeing on the Cuyahoga River, camping with her family, sleeping in deserted areas of the Cuyahoga Valley on the hottest summer nights, hiking in the area at a time when its limited access afforded privacy. She became active in the Sierra Club as a young adult. Marsh describes the beauty and mystery of the night sky as viewed from Virginia Kendall.…

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Phil January Interview, 2008

Phil January is president of the board of Cascade Locks Park Association. In this interview he discusses the beginnings of Cascade Park in the 1980s, fundraising and committee efforts, and membership growth. He highlights the Mustill Store, rehabbing, and historical choices made around the canal, and ideas for current and future development projects. January also describes efforts to bring people to the park and how park development and usage has led to rebirth in Akron.

Jerry Hruby Interview, 2008

Jerry Hruby has served as the Mayor of Brecksville, Ohio, since 1988 and serves on the advisory board of the National Park Service. He discusses studies of deer, coyotes, drainage, and wetlands in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the 2006 flood, bald eagles in the park, the Ohio Canal as living history, park superintendent John Debo, and the park's role in regional tourism.

Kathy Fernandez Interview, 2008

Kathy Fernandez has lived in Zoar and worked for the Ohio Historical Society there since 1975. She discusses the formation of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition and its role in getting the canal designated a national heritage area in 1996. She also discusses congressman Ralph Regula's vision for the canal in the 1960s. She notes the challenges that had to be overcome to win support for canal improvements.

Tim Donovan Interview, 2008

Tim Donovan explains his work with the Ohio Erie Canal Corridor and the Erie Canalway Association. Focused on articulating a sense of Cleveland's history and culture through a Canal Heritage project, Donovan believes that a connection and understanding of the Canal and its usefulness both historically and in the present can reinvigorate the city of Cleveland and the surrounding areas. Donovan details the political and professional work that he has done and continues to do to ensure the goals are…

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Kerry Metzger Interview, 2008

Kerry Metzger moved to New Philadelphia, Ohio, in 1978. He gave up his dental practice to become a Tuscarawas County Commissioner. In this capacity he oversees the purchase of land for bridge planned to connect the Towpath Trail over I-77 as well as working to secure the lands needed to extend the trail from Dover to New Philadelphia. He discusses the hiring of Gail Doyle as Park Director, the development of a technology-based industrial park, and the environmental hazards posed by a large…

Terry Stahurski Interview, 2008

Terry Stahurski discusses his work in West Creek Preservation after a court ruling that resulted in the destruction of wooded areas of the west side. Hoping to preserve green space, reduce pollution, and secure environmental protection, Stahurski began grantseeking and fundraising. He describes the environmental degradation in the West Creek watershed in Parma. The interview also focuses on the necessity to inform the public and continuing support for conservation projects.

Chris Soukoup Interview, 2008

A Detroit native, Chris Soukoup discusses the legal aspect of land acquisition for West Creek. His legal perspective specifically addresses the challenging and paradoxical issue of land preservation and commercial development. Using first hand accounts and experience, Soukoup explains how urban commericial development can be achieved without compromising the intent of preserving greenspace and land.

Peg Bobel Interview, 2008

Peg Bobel grew up in Akron and became interested in nature by spending time in Virginia Kendall Park and Munroe Falls, which led to her environmentalist activism, including in the Sierra Club. Bobel later served as Executive Director of the Cuyahoga Valley Association (later CVNPA) from 1989 to 2001. She wrote "Trail Guide to the Park," "Nature of the Towpath," and "Beyond Cleveland on Foot" and hosted the first Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor planning meeting to help preserve…

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Pete Henderson Interview, 24 June, 2008

Pete Henderson is a past leader of the Cuyahoga Valley Community Council. In this interview he discusses his city and regional planning background and the challenges he addressed in the Cuyahoga Valley, including overcoming local governments' fears that a national park threatened to reduce the tax base through acquisition of otherwise developable land, problems of traffic, deer overpopulation, and gypsy moths. He also discusses farm restoration efforts.

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Chuck Knaack Interview, 2008

Chuck Knaak retired as a high school teacher to work on the Tuscarawas County Lands Committee. He discusses the completion of a segment of the Towpath Trail to Zoar, plans for a towpath bridge over I-77, the economic impact and educational value of the project, the creation of a canal museum as part of the Zoar town hall renovation, the history of the Zoar Community Association, preservation and cultural and heritage tourism events in Zoar, and the critical role of grants and donations from…

Birdie Smith Interview, 24 June, 2008

Birdie Smith was a volunteer tour guide for school groups in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreational Area in the 1970s before it became Cuyahoga Valley National Park. She discusses the use of eminent domain Land for park land acquisition. She notes how a former dump site became the Beaver Pond, leading to a return of wildlife. Smith discusses the role of the League of Women Voters in lobbying federal government to establish the Cuyahoga Valley as a NPS unit. She relates how she and her husband…

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Joel Testa Interview, 24 June, 2008

Joel Testa is the chief operating officer of Testa Companies, a real estate development firm. Testa discusses his background in industrial design, his company's growth and various projects it has undertaken, and the potential for bringing a "Manhattan lifestyle" to downtown Akron through development that correlates with the Towpath Trail. He also discusses the importance of green space and sustainable development.

Mark Slater Interview, 2008

Mark Slater discusses his background in historic preservation and work with the Cuyahoga National Park. He reflects on the restoration of the Mustill House and Store in 1999 his work on park structures and farmsteads. Slater discusses his role in community relations, particularly creating a culture landscape with an emphasis on heritage and education. Slater articulates his desire to expand the farming program while recognizing and articulating financial challenges. Slater spends a majority of…

Siegfried Buerling Interview, 2008

A native of Germany, Siegfried Buerling discusses his work with the Western Reserve Historical Society as well as the resurgance of Hale Farm and Village. Discussing the challenge of the inclusion of RR into the process and the role of the National Park Service, Siegfried Buerling also discusses first person interpretation. Discussed in detail are the issues, problems, and impracticality facilitated by the "first person paradigm."

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Stan Koehlinger Interview,2008

Chair of Zoar Area Committee of Tuscarawas Canal Association. Sixmile trail with old Iron Bridge, pedestrian bridges, and culverts. Thirteen years of trail development through funding grants. Recreational potential; good public support. Issues of I-77 bridge and problems raised by property owners along path. Dream of a working lock. A locate a lock in Zoar; good commercial and recreational draw. People use Towpath to walk, foot races. Signage helps. Future bridge near Route 212.

Sue Klein Interview, 2008

Sue Klein is a volunteer in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and a board member in the CVNP Association. She moved to the Akron area in 1968 and became active in efforts to safeguard the Cuyahoga Valley from over-development. She discusses the role of the CNVP Association is getting the valley designated as a national park unit in the 1970s and recounts early cleanups and old building restorations in the valley.

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