Peninsula businesses near closed Cuyahoga Valley National Park hoping government shutdown ends soon

Fall color-dependent businesses feeling the crunch

PENINSULA, Ohio - Stephen Bures ran a pottery wheel in his family's shop, Elements Gallery, with a delicate hand. His wife, Debra, was just as delicate in explaining why a federal shutdown that closed neighboring Cuyahoga Valley National Park is like dealing with children who can't seem to get along.

Their business is heavily dependent on fall's tourist trade.

"We hope they'll come back here when the congressional impasse is resolved and the park is opened because this is a very real consequence for us," said Debra Bures. "So, as merchants and business people we're trying to support each other, we support the national park. We would hope that our elected officials could recognize that this is a very real problem and a real consequence and that the impasse needs to be solved."

Debra found that confused tourists, who had planned their vacations around Peninsula's fall views, still wanted to hike the Towpath. It's against the law to break through the locked gates with a short staff of national park rangers, who are working as a skeleton crew, unpaid through the partial shutdown. Selling maps and guide books, Bures sent many frustrated vacationers to areas of the Cleveland Metroparks or areas of the Towpath not under the national park's control.

The shutdown is on the minds of every merchant around the park. Debra Bures is let down by how elected officials are handling it.

"We expect our kids to work things out and to solve their problems. I don't think they're not being the best role models over there, you know," Bures said.

Losing bike rental profits while honoring the park's hope to limit cyclists, Century Cycles in Peninsula is feeling the squeeze, too. Open for sales and repairs as usual, the rental trade is hurting them this month.

"We had to turn away three or four groups of people already today only who wanted to rent bikes. That's a big part of our business, renting bikes for the Towpath trail," said Kevin Madzia, Century Cycles' webmaster. "We can't just send people out there to break the law. We tell them if they want to ride on the streets, they can, but most people aren't comfortable with that. But, the Summit County Bike Trail is right up the road so if they have a way to transport the bikes up the road they are welcome to do that, but most people come down to ride on the Towpath Trail, unfortunately they can't do that."

Unable to work her new federal job at Washington, D.C.'s Veteran's Association, Rachael Burden found herself bored and came home to visit her family in Ohio. Hoping to run, bike and exercise in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on a furlough issued to her one day after she took a new position there, it's frustrating.

"It's crazy, it's affecting the whole country," Burden said. " My husband and I are both on furlough."

Merchants want tourists and visitors to take note that they are all still open for business, regardless of the shutdown.

For information on Century Cycles go to: www.centurycycles.com  330-657-2209

For Information on Elements Gallery go to: www.elementsgallerypeninsula.com 330-657-2788

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