Parks mark 50 years with Perfect Creek


SUNBURY — Preservation Parks of Delaware County is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Recently, the parks system had an open house at the Sunbury Town Hall with plans for a property called Perfect Creek.

“This 478-acre property consists of gently rolling topography, mature woods, two miles of streams, high-quality wetlands, and open grasslands,” said a Facebook post earlier this month. “Major Park elements being considered include the Perfect-Sandel Farmhouse, Perfect Schoolhouse, archery ranges, police training range, observation areas, extensive trail system, operations/maintenance facility, restored forests, shelters, and restrooms. The park will eventually open in phases. The timeline will depend on budget considerations and grant opportunities.”

Preservation Parks began in 1974 as the Delaware County Metropolitan Park District, a name it held until 1995. In 1989, Rita Au became the first executive director, a position she held until 2013. Mary Van Haaften was hired as the district’s third executive director last year.

The Sandel Legacy Trail in Sunbury became the first property owned by Preservation Parks in 1990. Based in Sunbury at 2656 Hogback Road, Preservation Parks currently has a monthly open house with the Delaware County Model Railroad Group at 168 S. Vernon St., Sunbury.

According to its website, here’s what’s happened in the parks system in the current decade:

• Two parks, Sycamore Run and Hickory Woods, opened in 2021.

• “Park District purchases the initial 37 acres in Trenton Township from Kathy Sandel for future Perfect Creek Park,” in 2021. “Additional land purchases, including the Perfect-Sandel Farm life estate in 2024, bring the total future park size to 478 acres.”

• “Park District purchases 75 acres in Delaware Township north of Camp Lazarus for a future park,” in 2022. “An additional purchase in 2023 brings the total future park size to 129 acres.”

• In 2023, a “Former railroad trestle over the Big Walnut Creek in Sunbury is converted to carry the Ohio to Erie multi-use trail, providing an important connection, and nearly completing the trail in Delaware County.”

• This year, “McCammon Creek Park North Area opens north of Orange Road.”

Preservation Parks’s mission statement is “to protect and conserve the natural and historic features of Delaware County and to inspire outdoor exploration and learning.”

The Parks’ 50th anniversary will be celebrated at a gala at 6 p.m. June 27 at Swan Lake Event Center, 5900 Liberty Road N., Powell. For more information, visit

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak photographs and reports on stories in eastern Delaware County and surrounding areas.

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