Being a Gateway Community
Gatlinburg, Boulder, Bar Harbor...what do these places have in common with us? Answer: They are all gateway communities to national parks.
Recently, Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, and Peninsula took an important first step toward a new future for the Cuyahoga Valley by designating themselves as National Park Gateway Communities. Preserve the Valley hopes this action will enhance cooperation with the parks and build a more sustainable future for all of us who live, work, and play here.
What are National Park Gateway Communities?
According to the National Parks Conservation Association, they are places near national parks which "preserve community character, promote park and community health, and stimulate the local economy." They play a major role because they are entry and exit points for visitors and locals. Billions of tourism dollars flow into the nation's gateway communities each year.
However, their popularity means they also face much higher risks of overdevelopment and commercial sprawl. Being a gateway community can't be an open invitation to develop. Instead, it should be the motivation for making a gateway community as scenic and memorable as the parks around it, according to a recent Scenic America article. So, how can we make this happen here? We encourage the Cuyahoga Valley's gateway communities to prioritize these goals:
Do No Harm: Without healthy parks and waterways, there is no recreational economy for tourists or locals to enjoy. That's why protecting our region's irreplaceable natural resources (tree canopies, waterways, wetlands) from the stress of overdevelopment must be the Number #1 priority. Strong greenspace protections are critical to that effort.
Build Better Connections: The Cuyahoga Valley is an interconnected place, so there should be an interconnected effort to protect, promote, and preserve it for the future. Creating a Gateway Community Planning Group with representatives from local governments, small businesses, parks, and residents would enable collaborative planning and problem solving.
Promote Local: The best gateway communities capitalize on what makes them unique. Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, and Peninsula have a wide range of local experiences to offer visitors—from craft breweries to quaint main streets, from art galleries to river adventures. Working together and promoting together, gateway communities can keep tourism dollars here, stimulating the local economy
"The scenic value that our parks represent should be reflected
in the communities that serve them." -- Scenic America
Want more info about Gateway Communities?
Check out the new Gateway Communities resources page on our website. You'll find videos, downloadable guides, and more.