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AKRON, Ohio – Summit Metro Parks will unveil the new $1.46 million Summit Lake Nature Center on Thursday, July 1.

Located at 411 Ira Avenue in Akron, the 2,600-square foot nature center is housed in the former Summit Lake Pump House building. The nature center, which was created with input from the community, highlights the area’s people, history and natural resources, according to Stephanie Walton, Summit Metro Parks’ chief of marketing and communications.

“Summit Lake Nature Center connects people to nature in new ways and celebrates a healthy urban lake ecosystem,” Walton said. “The lake supports a thriving aquatic habitat featuring a variety of fish, mammals and waterfowl, and supports the park district’s endangered fish rearing program.”

Completed in 1911, the two-story brick house featured four massive pumps that delivered water to nearby factories to wash and cool equipment. Those same pumps returned used water to Summit Lake, which contributed to the high levels of metals, petroleum and contaminants that have rendered the lake unusable for decades, according to Summit Metro Parks chief of community engagement Demetrius Lambert-Falconer.

“It’s just not a nature center,” Lambert-Falconer said. “Because Summit Lake is a place that has endured a lot of economic distress and has totally been left out of the conversation for any type of development.”

Even worse, Lambert-Falconer said, is how she discovered that Summit Lake residents were blamed for the pollution caused by manufacturers.

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