Metroparks unveils enhanced Huntington Reservation

Three generations of the Trager family gather around the propane fire pit at the new Sunset Picnic Plaza. Photo by Denny Wendell

Visitors to the Huntington Reservation in Bay Village have long appreciated the sandy beach, cliffside walking path and unique water tower landmark. But there were a few things missing, namely: pleasant restrooms, walleye sandwiches and craft beer.

Last year, the Cleveland Metroparks began an enhancement project to bring more amenities to the lakefront park. With $1.6 million from individual and family donors and the Emerald Necklace Endowment Fund, the Metroparks was able to build brand new restrooms and a picnic area, expand the concession area and restore the historic Huntington water tower.

Metroparks officials unveiled the newly updated Huntington Reservation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 27.

The bathrooms were the first improvements of the project, Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman said during the ceremony, a renovation that was overdue for some parkgoers. Zimmerman chuckled as he recalled a patron, upon seeing the new facilities, commenting to a staff member: “It’s about damn time.”

Huntington is one of the Metroparks’ oldest reservations and the project design team made sure to recognize the history of the area, particularly the water tower that houses the concession stand.

The tower was built by the land’s former owner, John Huntington, to irrigate his orchard and vineyard. The estate was sold to the Metropolitan Park Authority in 1927 and the tower remains a landmark of the Huntington Reservation.

“The water tower has now been basically reskinned,” Zimmerman said. “It served its purpose for more than 30 years for the winery and the orchard here ... but it’s been part of Honey Hut and the ice cream here for more than 80 years now, so it’s truly part of the fabric of what this park brings to the community.”

The concession stand, now called The Noshery, is set to feature made-to-order food items including salads, walleye sandwiches and Honey Hut ice cream. It will also serve Ohio craft beer and cocktails.

The Sunset Picnic Plaza is a beautiful open-air space to enjoy snacks from The Noshery and view the spectacular changing of colors as the sun sinks below the horizon. The 4,200-square-foot plaza includes rows of picnic tables, a propane fire pit, and will soon have swinging benches. The space features natural landscaping designed by Westlake-based Ground Works Land Design and its owner, Bay resident Tony Nasrallah.

Visitors trek to the Bay Village waterfront from all over the area; the Metroparks estimates that more than 925,000 patrons visited Huntington Beach last year, up nearly 100,000 from 2019. The park’s new amenities are likely to boost those numbers even higher this season.

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Volume 13, Issue 11, Posted 11:50 AM, 06.02.2021