“In terms of conventional physics, the grouse represents only a millionth of either the mass or the energy of an acre. Yet subtract the grouse and the whole thing is dead.” -- Aldo Leopold

“New York City’s Central Park …emerged out of a complex mix of motivations – to make money, to display the city’s cultivation, to lift up the poor, to refine the rich, to advance commercial interests, to retard commercial development, to improve public health, to curry political favor, to provide jobs. No single individual either conceived or carried through the massive public project that, in the end, cost more than $10 million (three times the city’s total budget in 1850) and took more than eight hundred acres out of the most expensive and intensely competitive real estate market in the United States.” -- Roy Rosenzweig and Elizabeth Blackmar, The Park and The People.

We are tired of having everything boorish and coarse and unfeeling called American,” complained George W. Curtis in a Harper’s Magazine editorial advocating a landscaped park in 1830. From the beginning of the century until 1850, New York City’s population grew from 90 thousand to 600,000, and was then somewhat smaller than the size Columbus is today. Impetus for the construction of Central Park probably came first from Robert Minturn, a well-connected merchant, wealthy enough to travel about in Europe, where he saw first hand the splendor of large, well tended gardens and scenic parks. A second proponent for the park came from the young poet and editorialist, William Cullen Bryant. As early as 1844, when he was still a part-time student at Yale, Bryant’s editorials in the Evening Post newspaper lobbied strongly for the creation of a major natural park for New York City. A short 150 years later, it is impossible to imagine New York without its large central oasis. It would be like imagining there were never any pyramids.

As stated by Steve Coleman from the Urban land Institute, “People come to parks with simple needs: rest, relaxation, recreation, and respite from the city. Good parks meet these needs but then also respond to deeper yearnings, giving us ideas, hope, and a sense of possibility in our own lives and communities. Far more than pretty things to look at, successful parks are places where we show people that their dreams can come true. Parks inspire us to rise to our best and to appreciate what is good among us. Created out of leaps of faith that often defied all conventional wisdom about what was practical, parks in turn broaden our own capacity to imagine and create a better future.” (The Invisible Park: Revitalizing the Ten Invisible Landscapes, Urban Land Institute, 1998.)

There are a small but growing number of people who, having taken a long look at what surrounds them, are deeply afraid of a future with wall-to-wall homes and no large, open green space. While it is true that Columbus has very lovely Metro parks outside the I-270 outerbelt, these parks represent a good 20 to 40 minutes driving distance for residents on the northwest side. For most of us, who casually contemplate a brief walk, jog or bike ride after a harried day at work, the distance is too far.

But across the Scioto River, lies the last possible refuge for people who might one day prefer to walk to a park than load up the car. This is the Marble Cliff Quarry.

The Marble Cliff Quarry, east of Dublin Road and west of the Scioto River, between Trabue and Scioto Darby Road’s intersection with Dublin Road, in northwest Columbus, retains some extremely unique geologic, historic and esthetic features. Mined for construction aggregate since the mid-1800’s, the quarry has over 1,000 feet of limestone bedrock, which will eventually be excavated from underground tunnels. Many of the Ordovician rock layers are highly fossiliferous and tell us much about the time when Columbus was warm, tropical and covered by a shallow eperic sea.

The Ohio State University geology department is quick to share their appreciation for the fossilized remains the rest of us mainly take for granted. Dale Gnidovec gives frequent lectures at the Metro Parks. When asked if there were any really interesting fossils in Columbus, Mr. Gnidovec said that some of the fossils are beautiful to look at and good specimens in and of themselves and “others are only cool because of what they represent. A piece of Dunklosteus found in Whetstone Park is an example of the latter. The specimen itself isn’t much more than a fragment, but the animal it came from has got to be one of the coolest ever. Plates and spines from other neat Devonian fish, such as Machropetalichthyes and Machaeracanthus, are quite abundant in some parts of the Columbus Limestone, as are the teeth of Onychodus. For invertebrates, there are pygidia (tails) of the trilobite Coronura that probably came from individuals that were a foot or more long. We have a couple coiled cephalopods nearly a foot across, and some sections of straight-shelled cephalopods that may have been three, four, even five feet long when alive. Then there are the giant horn corals, a foot or more in length.”

Seen at first daylight, the giant expanses of rock cliffs and crystal clear lakes are reminiscent of the western plateau regions. The parks’ deer, fox and coyote live in balance along with hawks, cranes and other seldom-seem wildlife. Parks Inside Columbus (PIC) was formed to provide three key functions: 1) to lobby for policy maker approval of a large park acquisition in northwest Columbus; 2) to awaken the public’s unexpressed desire for large park acreage and 3) to perform fund-raising. The organization will also provide partnership and funding augmentation to any and all public efforts to create parkland in northwest Columbus, Ohio.

Members of PIC see the park as an opportunity to provide 1) an esthetic retreat, a fantastic landscape quite unfamiliar to mid-westerners; 2) learning opportunities in terms of ecosystems, geology and wildlife ; 3) clear lakes and waterfalls; and 4) see a natural wildlife habitat maintained. PIC envisions there being a pedestrian/bike viaduct leading from the neighborhood of Upper Arlington into the park (several narrow bridges already exist for this) and numerous bike paths around the perimeter of the quarry (after surface mining phase is completed, down into the quarry) with the forest more or less maintained in its “natural state” (the deer make great paths). PIC would also like there to be sculptures in the rock areas, fountains, etc., but in general, we want the park to be an exceptional asset for all of the surrounding communities and we are hoping people will get on this bandwagon very soon. It may well be the last chance.

Now, imagine:
... A wilderness and wildlife refuge in the heart of Columbus;
... A place to visualize a 300 million year old sea and the inception of life;
... A crystal clear lake, breathtaking vistas and exciting bike and hiking trails all in the same Columbus park.
Imagine you can fish;
see a deer;
flee a coyote;
ride horses on a tree-lined bridle path;
take your mountain bike on a wooded trail;
skate, jog, climb a tree;
read a newspaper;
sing a song;
hear a pin drop
within walking distance!!!!!

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