Bill Yeck – The Father of the Park District

Bill Yeck grew up in the Akron area in the 1920s, and relocated to Washington Township in 1951. Always with an interest in green space and nature, Bill agreed to head up the newly-formed Park District in 1959. His goal for the district was to “Get us more parks and find ways to pay for them.

While under his direction, the Park District grew to include 43 parks with over 893 acres of open, green spaces. At the time the Park District was formed, there was a state law that allowed only one public park per township and nobody knew what kinds of parks were needed, where parks should be located, or how the parks should be maintained, especially with no funding. Bill Yeck researched, visited other park districts and sought help from experts and enthusiasts to build the Centerville-Washington Park District.

Bill Yeck was so dedicated to the concept of open and green spaces, that he put a Conservation Easement on his own home property so that the wooded areas around the house would be preserved and could not be developed.

In 1996, the formerly-named Sugar Valley Park was renamed in honor of Bill Yeck. Bill Yeck Park is a 194-acre park nestled back off of the road along 1.75 miles of Sugar Creek. The park features the Tri-Centennial Time Trail. The trail was established in 1996 and is a tract of land that represents 100 years of natural succession. Each year a section is added that is unmown, which creates a trail to show how the a field turns into a forest.

A few other features of the park:

  • If you stand on the observation deck at Rook Mill Lake, looking across the creek, you can see the former location of the J. Murphy sawmill, which was built around 1830.
  • Hiking the yellow trail, you will come upon the site of the Abner Stevens well and cabin, which was once situated on a road that is now lost to time, which ran along the creek from Sugar Ridge Lane to the 1817 Neil-Tucker Grist Mill that is north of the park.
  • In the northwest corner of the park is an abandoned well on what was once the land of Thomas Miller, who lived on the land in 1851.
  • The historic home and property of Victor and Mary Jane Smith along Centerville Station Road. This 37-acre site was added to the park in 2010. The home was built in 1820, with several additions added on since then.

After his death in 2007, Bill Yeck was inducted posthumously into the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

If you would like to visit Bill Yeck Park:
Rooks Mill Entrance, 8798 Rooks Mill Lane
Smith House Entrance, 2230 E. Centerville Station Road
McGuffey Meadow Entrance, 7893 Wilmington-Dayton Road

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