Did you ever want to do something grand? Something so awesome and amazing that you just knew people would love it, but it was almost impossible to do... because it was illegal? Should you push forward to start on your vision, knowing with almost absolute certainty that there was no way it would be completed within your lifetime? How do you make it legal? Where do you begin? Such were the dilemmas facing William Stinchcomb. He envisioned reserving the increasingly scarce undeveloped land around the city of Cleveland (hence the term, "reservations") and using it to create a connected park system that would encircle a metropolitan area that was rapidly becoming one of the nation’s largest.
Consider that all Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township residents now have a Cleveland Metroparks green space within 15 minutes of where they live. Now consider the cost and legal wrangling that would be required to acquire those lands if Cleveland Metroparks had to start all over today. Remember that we’re talking about thousands upon thousands of acres of urban and suburban property, which now includes lakefront real estate along the shores of a Great Lake. It would seem an incredibly daunting, if not a nearly impossible task. But, it at least seems possible because we have the benefit of knowing that Cleveland Metroparks has the legal capacity to raise funds by appealing to the voters. Stinchcomb did not have that benefit when he began to imagine. Stinchcomb, and those of his ilk, spent about a dozen years just trying to make the reality of his park system, and its ability to raise funds to purchase and maintain green space, a legal possibility.
Fortunately for us, the right people had the right vision and the right luck (timing is everything) to acquire the lands that have become our beloved "Emerald Necklace." And fortunately, voters have never failed to “put their money where their mouth is” at the polls when they overwhelmingly resound, “We love our Cleveland Metroparks!”
The future thanks you for the past.