Freedom Trail History

Freedom Trail History

Building a great community takes vision, teamwork and volunteers who believe in putting community and others ahead of self.  Many of Strongsville’s accomplishments were built with donations of time, treasure and talent, not built by the City ‘s tax dollars.  Sharing the Freedom Trail story is important in showing how we build a great community, aligning with my philosophy of leadership.

Freedom Trail History

2005 Beginning Construction Phase 2019 – How It Looks Today

 

The Freedom Trail started with a 2005 grant request for a multi-purpose board walk to be built by our Service Department [see the original letter to Cuyahoga County]. This boardwalk/sidewalk could be used by all residents, including handicap accessible, to safely walk through the center of town. Our senior citizens who live in Westwood Place would have better access to the Ehrnfelt Senior Center. It would provide a path from the Library to the Recreation Center and would make the area much safer. Formerly, folks had to walk along the street with no lighting, which was very unsafe.

Our City Forester, Jennifer Milbrandt, and I brainstormed and created a vision for a Freedom Trail. The concept  created a destination location to honor our Veterans who served our community, state and country. We also wanted people to have a place to relax and enjoy the peace and serenity of the area.  The overall vision was to add beautiful gardens to honor our veterans, add lighting, and possibly add a gazebo. Our concept added a greater purpose and an asset for our city versus the basic multi-purpose boardwalk (AKA sidewalk). Today, many residents enjoy the Freedom Trail for city events, weddings, and photo opportunities for special occasions.

We had the blessing of City Hall and Mayor Perciak; however, city funds and priorities prevented use for beautification. So, Jennifer and I started shared the vision with various civic groups and city leaders.  Before we knew it, we had donations for all the major gardens, the Puzzitiello family, (Parkview Homes) and Dave Kliment (Neighborhood Construction) kindly offered to build the Gazebo at no cost to the City.

We had donations for trees and plaques for each major war. Gordy Glissman and Jeff Rak worked laboriously to plant trees, shrubs and created a water feature. John Higginbotham (former Strongsville Fire Fighter) offered to help run electric along the trail for lighting. This was a huge undertaking and saved thousands of dollars.  I recall my father-in-law, Fran Branic, helping us pull the wires through the complexity of conduit and its turns and curves. He saved us on many occasions! Lee Sprague and his wife, Irene, funded the monument . Strongsville resident Monica Schuld wrote the poem that is engraved on the back of the monument.

The Freedom trail is an example of giving back to the community for my children as well, asking them to donate time to help plant shrubs, flowers and mulch. My son, James, experienced a bee flying into his Coke can, stinging him in the throat and prompting a detour to ER that day! He was fine, but it was very scary there for a few minutes! That day gave me a new perspective on our paramedics and fast response times (another passion of mine, but that is a story for another section of my website).

2005 Beginning Construction Phase 2019 – How It Looks Today

Thank you again to our Service Department, Jennifer Milbrandt, and the dozens and dozens of volunteers and donors who made this dream a reality for the City of Strongsville.