TWINSBURG, OH — More than 76 acres in northern Summit County will be protected from future industrial or retail development in an acquisition that West Creek Conservancy says is a win for environmental justice. Known as the Twinsburg Heights Preserve property, it is located in Twinsburg Township and the City of Twinsburg between Hadden Road and I-480 just south of State Route 82.

West Creek purchased the property with grant funding through the Clean Ohio Green Space Program, administered by Ohio Public Works Commission, and the H2Ohio Program, administered by Ohio Department of Natural Resources. 

“This project would not have been possible without the partnership and financial assistance of the Clean Ohio Program and the H2Ohio Program,” said Joe Leslie, director of real estate for West Creek Conservancy. “Our partners quickly stepped-up to make this happen and as a result, we’re able to protect these habitats against impending development.” 

The H2Ohio Program is a water quality initiative working to address serious water issues. It was created by Governor Mike DeWine in 2019. The H2Ohio Program has also funded the restoration of portions of the Preserve. The Clean Ohio Program is dedicated to environmental conservation including the acquisition of green space and the protection and enhancement of river and stream corridors. 

“This was a special opportunity to recover, restore, and protect natural resources in a densely developed area,” said Linda Bailiff, director of the Ohio Public Works Commission. “I am very pleased to see this important project come to fruition and look forward to seeing this property become a green space for the community as opposed to an industrial development.”

In 2006, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, a prominent Cleveland area plastic surgeon proposed building a shopping center on the property. When the 2008 recession hit, plans were put on hold and other uses were contemplated. In 2020, a 400,000 square foot warehouse distribution center was proposed for the property. 

The Preserve is located to the east of the Twinsburg Heights neighborhood. Recent census data shows that the area is predominantly African American and is surrounded on three sides by industrial land. Residents expressed serious concern over the industrial development and were determined to keep the development from occurring. Industrial development of the Preserve property would have had a significant and irreparable impact on the adjacent neighborhood, as well as the ecology, said Leslie. 

Protecting this land will provide access to green space for the adjacent community that historically lacks access in part due to previous redlining. Leslie said that 76 acres will remain preserved for use as a park, public forest or for other natural areas. A portion of the property where homes are and were previously, will again be used for residential purposes.

The Preserve features rock outcroppings, steep slopes, and ledges and is located within miles of Liberty Park. Bat surveys conducted between 2003 and 2015 identified the federally threatened northern long-eared and the Indiana bat in Liberty Park. The Preserve property provides suitable habitat for threatened and endangered species, and the preservation of the property supports a variety of native plant and wildlife habitats. The site has water quality implications as well considering there are over two miles of headwater streams on the Preserve. 

About West Creek Conservancy: Since its founding, West Creek has been a model of citizen action and land conservation, maximizing benefits and leveraging projects to the fullest extent possible. Initially embracing the much-needed role of an urban land trust serving Greater Cleveland, West Creek ultimately evolved into a diverse non-profit conservation organization serving the region.

West Creek has protected thousands of acres in dozens of communities across the region, while placing importance on water quality improvement, storm water abatement, wetland and riparian corridor restoration, environmental education and outreach, historic preservation, and natural resource stewardship.

The mission of West Creek is to enrich the lives of all people in Northeast Ohio by conserving natural habitats, restoring the ecological value of our region’s lands and waters, and expanding opportunities to connect people from all cultures to experience nature and discover our great outdoors. 

Photo Credit: The Akron Beacon Journal