Metro Parks plans to open 150 acres of parkland in northeastern Franklin County this year, with few improvements.
The parks district recently purchased the wooded, rolling land, which has been likened to Hocking Hills, for $5.3 million. Metro Parks used $3.4 million in Clean Ohio funds to help make the purchase.
The land is in Blendon Township just north of the Golf Club at Little Turtle. To the west is Big Walnut Creek, with cliffs at least 100 feet tall. Deep ravines slice through the property.
Metro Parks executive director Tim Moloney said there's no target date to open the property, which will be managed by the team from nearby Blendon Woods Metro Park.
It will offer few amenities: no decks, picnic tables or even bathrooms.
"It will be very primitive," he said.
The parks system will mark property lines. Officials still are deciding whether it will have marked, but unpaved, trails.
"The park staff is working on the best way of introducing that space to the public," he said.
Aryeh Alex, president of Friends of Metro Parks, said he supports the decision to keep the parkland undeveloped. He said it is old forest with little ground cover or invasive plants, making it a good area to explore.
"Also, it's just absolutely gorgeous," said Alex, who also is vice president of public affairs for the Ohio Environmental Council and has seen the property. " I felt like I was in southeast Ohio."
Part of the property -- 98 acres -- once belonged to Richard and Ann Shafer. Richard Shafer's business was road paving and affiliated companies. They built their home off nearby Lee Road on 25 acres.
In 1958, the Shafers established a foundation. Ann Shafer died in 1964 and Richard Shafer died in 1973 after marrying his second wife, Fannie. When she died in 2006, she left most of her estate to the foundation, and Metro Parks approached the foundation about buying the property.
The rest of the land was purchased in June 2017 from another family trust.