Zone Recreation Center rededicated after $3 million transformation

Progressive design of green space lauded

CLEVELAND - $3 million and 10 years of planning, development and construction have transformed the 22 acres of green space at the Michael J. Zone Recreation Center on Cleveland's near west side.

On Saturday, Cleveland Ward 15 Councilman Matt Zone and other city and neighborhood leaders will rededicate the facility, which bears his father's name.

Councilman Zone's father died in 1974 of a heart attack, while serving as councilman from the same Detroit Shoreway neighborhood his son now represents. Zone's mother, Mary, also served two council terms after her husband's passing.

The recreation center was built and dedicated to the senior Zone in 1982.

Matt Zone told NewsChannel5 that his father took a special interest in recreation and fitness in part due to his experience in World War ll.

"He was a POW that was captured during the Battle of the Bulge," said Zone. "When my father went into the war, he weighed 190 lbs. The day he was liberated he only weighed 135, because they literally starved the American POWs."

Zone said the five years his father spent as a prisoner in Germany permanently damaged his heart and lead to his untimely death.

"He always advocated for better recreational amenities," said Zone, about his father's time on city council between 1960 and 1974.

The newly transformed green space outside the recreation center building features numerous new and improved facilities. A second baseball diamond and soccer field have been added. There is a new playground, tennis courts, skate park, walking paths and exercise stations, handball court, dog parks and a splash basin. The basketball courts have been refurbished and parking has been improved.

Equally impressive, according to landscape architect James McKnight , is the progressive and sustainable features designed into the massive outdoor space.

"We're actually using all the storm water on-site to completely manage the system," said McKnight. "Everything is state-of-the-art, in terms of its alignment and the facility -- the way it's designed.

McKnight said the site employs other urban ecological techniques like permaculture, rain gardens and wetlands to help integrate the recreation areas into the natural environment.

The Michael J. Zone Recreation Center is located at the corner of Lorain Avenue and West 65th Street.

The rededication ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Sat., Aug. 4.

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