Browse Interviews

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

Walter Allen Interview, 2008

Walter Allen, an artist and active participant in West Creek preservation, details his life and work as a designer for the organization. Born in the 1920s, Allen's story highlights not only his work with West Creek and carreer as an artist, it highlights the historical impact of national events on the city of Cleveland. Allen, a product of the GI bill and graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, details this and other elements of history in relation to the greater Cleveland area.

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 Bennett Interview, 2008

Jeff Bennett, a middle school teacher, purchased a Victorian house in Zoar in 1992 and has been active as a Zoar trustee since the early 1990s. He discusses the town hall restoration, preservation, tours, and educational programming at Zoar, and his thoughts on living in Zoar.

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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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.

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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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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Scott Curtis Interview, 2008

Scott Curtis discusses his past work as a councilman and member of the WCPC. Issues discussed include the opening of trails and projects in Seven Hills, Hinkley, Pleasant Valley, and work with ODOT. Curtis also highlights his transition into the legal profession and the impact and influence of preservation and conservation in Cleveland on his career.

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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Tim DeGeeter Interview, 2008

A former Parma Law Clerk with an educational background in Cleveland, Tim DeGeeter discusses the political and legal effort to see the goals of the West Creek project become a reality. Believing that greenspace and parks are areas that communities grow around, DeGeeter's use of the ballot to increase efforts and citizen's awareness are vital to the success of the West Creek project.

Dean DePiero Interview, 24 June, 2008

The mayor of Parma, Dean Depiero discusses his political effort in concert with the West Creek conservation project and the impact of the environmental efforts on his community. From a political perspective, the mayor focuses much of the interview on the process by which he and local constituents came to support the efforts of conservationists and the impact the project has had on Parma's economic, environmental, and social landscape.

Tim Dobeck Interview, 2008

The Law Director of the City of Parma, Tim Dobeck reflects on the grassroots effort to initiate the West Creek Project in 1998. While ignorant of the land area as a child, Dobeck speaks of the impact the project and space has had on his professional and personal life in recent years. His legal effort saved the space from commercial development and he discusses the land's use as an environmentally protected greenspace.

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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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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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.

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.

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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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…

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…

Charles Germana Interview, 2008

Charles Germana, President of Parma's City Council, discusses the issues surrounding the city and the impact of the West Creek Project. Discussed at length are issues of population density and overdevelopment. The issue of the use of land in Parma is described as a "synergy" of influences. Ultimately, the councilman discusses the impact of West Creek on a specific issue of land in Parma to be used as a park and to combat issues of population and the density of retail in a suburban community.

Jack Gieck Interview, 2008

Current President of the Board of Cascade Locks Association discusses the beginnings of Cascade Park in the 1980's. Fundraising and committee efforts, and membership growth. Highlights Mustill store, rehabbing, and historical choices made around canal. Ideas for current and future development projects are listed. School, local business, and community involvement are vital to success. Efforts to bring people to park. Discusses fundraising efforts and how project has changed since he began. Park…

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.

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…

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…

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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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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Barbara Hermes Interview, 2008

A Parma resient since the late 1960s, Barbara Hermes reflects on the organization of citzens around the preservation of West Creek and the improvements of watersheds for the purpose of creating a towpath. As a member of the Board of Trustees, Hermes talks at length about funding and political issues and debates surrounding this and other conservation projects. The interviewee also comments on the role of the committee in educating future children about the environmental significance of WCPC and…

Neil Hess Interview, 2008

A Jackson County native and graduate of Ohio University's geology program, Neil Hess discusses his work in environmental consulting and his specific work on the West Creek project. Hess reflects on the initial goals of the project as well as the experience of working with volunteers and a public separated by class as well as education. Hess details throughout much of the interview the economic, social, political, and pragmatic use of nature and the importance of conservation projects.

Pat Holland Interview, 2008

As a railroad breakerman since 1978, Pat Holland discusses his goal in connecting downtown Cleveland with the Midwest Railway. The interview discusses the loss of records due to fire, restoration, and historical preservation of the railway. Holland also discusses the fundraising and economic challenges that have impacted the RR in Cleveland.

George Hoy Interview, 2008

The owner and operator of the Inn at Brandywine Falls, George Hoy relates the history of the structure. He also discusses the participation of the family in the preservation of the house, his self publication, and uses of the inn. A member of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association, Hoy articulates his participation in the sponsoring of an acre of park land as well as extensive reflections on the "Penninsula Python."

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.

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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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.

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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Jim Kastelic Interview 2 of 2, June 2008

Educated in urban geography and a former employee of the Cuyahoga County Regional Planning Commission, Jim Kastelic details his array of experience with West Creek preservation. Kastelic details the challenges of convincing a suburban community of the benefits of green space and the significance of preservation and restoration in general. Kastelic notes the positive impact that the West Creek Preservation Committee has had on the residents of Parma and the influence that he believes will…

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.

Darwin Kelsey Interview, 2008

Darwin Kelsey discusses the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Initiative, a nonprofit founded in 1999 to rehabilitate local farms within the park. A former employee of Sturbridge Farm, a living history site, Kelsey discusses working in the research department and how a background in historic preservation and living history facilitated future endeavors such as the CVCI. Kelsey discusses in detail the necessity of agricultural and farm preservation and how increased awareness of farm advocacy can have…

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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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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…

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.

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.

David Lincheck Interview, 2008

Dave Lincheck, Director and co-founder of the West Creek Preserve and Greenway discusses his grassroots fight to preserve the greenspace of Cleveland from commercial developments that undermine living space. Projects include the wetland restoration project and the conservation of physical landscapes in Cleveland's west side. Lincheck believes that conservation projects increase the livability of the city, underlying issues such as urban sprawl and the development of rural areas that may have…

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…

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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Jen Maurer Interview, 2008

Cascade Locks Association director Jen Maurer explains the strategic plan to preserve and rehabilitate the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. She argues that the historical benefits for the public outweigh disagreements over the park. Maurer discusses the Mustill house and store and how Virginia Wojno-Forney was the visionary for its successful restoration.

Laura McShane Interview, 2008

A librarian and board member of the WCPC, Laura McShane discusses the grant writing process, watershed projects, maping program, and citizen support of the work of the organization. As a librarian and researcher, McShane provides some historical background of the area while emphasizing the role of the project in community building. McShane attempts to make clear the role of environmental conservation in preserving communities, linking sprawl with environmental hazards.

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…

Fred Miller Interview, 2008

Fred Miller is the principal of Boliver Elementary School and president of Tuscarawas Valley Historical Society. In this interview, Miller discusses the impact of Sandy Beaver Canal and I-77 on Tuscarawas County; the use of two aqueducts in Bolivar; and the involvement of the historical society. He describes the impact of the new Towpath bridge and discusses changes to the Towpath landscape, especially the Stark County Dump.

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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