October 09, 2008

Geauga Park District purchases Nassau Observatory from Case Western Reserve University

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Geauga Park District Board of Park Commissioners announces the acquisition of 281 acres in Montville Township, popularly known as Nassau Observatory, from Case Western Reserve University. This parcel will become part of Observatory Park, and bring the acreage for this park to 1,117.7 acres, making it the Park District's largest single land-holding.

Built in the 1950s, the Nassau Observatory was located in rural Geauga County to take advantage of the lack of light pollution that had compromised Case Western Reserve Unvieristy's original observatory in East Cleveland. Named after observatory director and chair of astronomy at the university, Jason John Nassau, the observatory functioned as a research facility until the growing population in Geauga County brought similar light pollution issues. The Nassau Observatory has been used for student education and general outreach programs for the general public.

In honor of the observatory's namesake and to keep an ongoing connection between his legacy and Case Western Reserve, a plaque honoring both Nassau and the observatory's history of outreach to the general public is mounted on the telescope building by the main door.

"We are very glad that the Geauga Park District will continue Nassau's legacy of sharing the excitement of astronomy with the community" said Heather Morrison, professor and chair of the department of astronomy at Case Western Reserve.

"Land preservation is central to Geauga Park District's mission, and we are pleased to protect so much land in the Cuyahoga River watershed," says Geauga Park District Executive Director Tom Curtin. "We recognized the uniqueness of the observatory, and know Geauga County residents have enjoyed access to it during public programs. It will be a pleasure to make it available again in the future."

As with all other amenities planned for Observatory Park, park features will be added as money is raised by the Geauga Park District Foundation, who is conducting a fundraising campaign for the development of this park. Phase I of Observatory Park construction is currently underway to build an entrance drive and parking area. Geauga Park District will conduct a complete assessment of the Nassau facilities to determine what will be required to update the building and parking area to make it functional for public programming and accessibility.

Observatory Park, located at 10610 Clay Street, is planned to be a great resource for residents to explore and connect with nature from the earth to the heavens. The master plan also includes the Oberle Observation Station, named for Norman Oberle, whose wife donated a telescope to Geauga Park District in her husband's memory. Other planned features are a picnic pavilion, hiking trails and numerous outdoor educational features that teach cultural history of the human interaction with the earth and planets. The vision is to provide a venue for scientific research and learning; to provide opportunities for school children and other students to gain hands-on interaction with the sciences; and for all people to simply connect with the outdoors.

Observatory Park holds a diversity of habitats, such as old growth forest, wetlands, and open fields. Some important species found on the property are the endangered red swamp current and the rare five-lined skink. The park also helps protect the headwaters of the Cuyahoga River.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, October 9, 2008 01:03 PM | News Topics: Collaborations/Partnerships, College of Arts and Sciences, Environment, HeadlinesMain, news

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