Park system wants to offer families chance to meet farm animals

PERKINS TWP. Even city kids should get a chance to visit the farm, says Steve Dice, executive direct
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



Even city kids should get a chance to visit the farm, says Steve Dice, executive director of Erie MetroParks.

The park system is trying to establish a small farm animal park that would give local families a chance to get up close to farmanimals, Dice told Erie County Commissioners at Thursday's meeting.

Dice said the proposal is to establish the park at the Bicentennial Barn on East Perkins Avenue, across the street from Osborn Park.

The park system owns the land, but the animals will be provided by Melissa Viviano, a Sanduskyresident.

Viviano said Thursday she owns Whispering Rain Farm, a small farm in Norwalk. She keeps and breeds horses and has been riding since she was 3 years old.

Viviano said using the parksystem's farm will allow her to see her animals more often.

In return, she promised to offer programs every other week allowing children to see theanimals and learn about them.

She said she hopes to move horses and goats onto the farm in October, add cows and pigs, and then add chickens and sheep.

The farm is 2.28 acres and is part of a 4.94-acre parcel the park system owns, Dice said.

Dice told commissioners he still working toward a pool at Osborn Park that would provide water safety training and recreation for local families. The park system will likely seek requests for proposals in two to three weeks.

He also said park officials have been meeting with local cross country coaches, trying to upgrade the cross country trail at Osborn Park to try to attract regional or district meets in 2009.

Joe Hayberger, a former cross country coach who is a candidate for county commissioner, said such events attract big groups of people and asked where the buses will park. Dice said there is a piece of land south of the Erie County Care Facility that could be used by buses.

Hayberger said what Dice is trying to do is a good idea and can bring people to the county.

Dice said he also wants to upgrade soccer fields at Osborn Park.

"With a little more work, we hope to have statewide soccer meets," he said.

Dice reported that the Truscott Memorial Shelter was constructed at Birmingham School Park in Florence Township. The new shelter is named for the late Starr Truscott, a former park commissioner.