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Old State Park: Portage Lakes

Old State Park: Portage Lakes

New Docks



Old State Park needed a design solution and update for their facilities that was cost effective, environmentally sound, and would provide park goers with an enjoyable experience.

Services Involved

  • Architectural Design
  • Civil Engineering
  • Construction Administration
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Planning
  • Geotechnical Inspection
  • Inspection
  • Planning
  • Structural Engineering
  • Survey


2007 Honor Award

American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Ohio

Old State Park – Portage Lakes

When the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) decided to direct valuable resources to improvements at the Old State Park area of Portage Lakes State Park, the plans were met enthusiastically. Park goers, including fishing enthusiasts, picnickers, recreational boaters, and thousands of people who simply enjoy having the refuge of a state park, we’re excited to see the improvements ahead. Old State Park is nestled within an urban and suburban location in Summit County, Ohio.

Portage Lake History

Portage Lakes is named for the eight-mile portage trail between the navigable waters leading north to Lake Erie and south to the Ohio River.


When the overland path was made obsolete by canals in the early nineteenth century, the lakes themselves became more critical. For nearly a century, several of the lakes were created as reservoirs to feed the canals and maintain adequate water depth for navigation.


Between the abandonment of the canals in 1913 and the creation of the ODNR in 1949, the lakes were used as a water supply to local industry and for recreation.

Time for Improvements at old state park

For 25 years, no capital improvements had been made to Old State Park. Roadways were narrow and in very poor condition, with deteriorated asphalt and large trees growing up through the pavement. Some parking were slowly sliding into the lake. The existing visitor facilities were very uncomfortable, to say the least.


Without launch ramps, boaters launched their boats from the deteriorated asphalt parking lot. Because of the lack of lighting, access for early morning and late night fishing was difficult.


Many of the problems at Old State Park were caused by the poor soil conditions, consisting of high levels of peat and organic material. Soil erosion was a primary concern for ODNR, limiting recreational use and adding environmental protection concerns.


ms kicked off the project by understanding ODNR’s present and future needs for Old State Park. The team wanted a cost-effective, environmentally sound, and an enjoyable recreational experience for park goers.


Accomplishing these goals required ms to balance complex technical issues such as soil conditions and wastewater treatment options with usability and aesthetic considerations.


The improvements made the site almost unrecognizable in comparison to the previous conditions.

Final project improvements:

  • Construction of a new three-lane boat
    launch ramp.
  • To counteract the boggy soil conditions, ms recommended shoreline protection. In addition to providing permanent shoreline protection, the wall increased usability for boaters.
  • New site access roads and separate parking areas to accommodate cars and recreational vehicles with boat trailers.
  • Pavement striping and signage was added to assist park patrons with traffic flow patterns.
  • New area lighting fixtures so the facilities are safer and easier to use before sunrise and after dark.
  • The 1,350-square-foot Walker Pavilion, dedicated in honor of former Park Manager Steve Walker. Walker Pavilion is a picnic shelter house available for family gatherings and group function rental.
  • A new restroom building with handicap-accessible facilities, as well as drinking fountains and vending machines.
  • Rehabilitation of the existing water supply well
    and a new on-site sewage disposal system was constructed.

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