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Ottawa County Park, once a family farm, continues to grow thanks to the community

Lorraine Zimmerman and her husband turned their family's farm into a full-fledged park back in 2017. It continues to grow as a family oasis in the country.

PORT CLINTON, Ohio — Call it an oasis in the country.

Hopfinger Zimmerman Memorial Park opened in 2017 on County Road 17 in Bay Township just outside Port Clinton.  Lorraine Zimmerman grew up on the land, where for more than 30 years, her parents worked a family farm. 

But when they died, she knew she wanted to transform it into something special.

"We don't have children to leave it to," said Lorraine, speaking of her husband, "so we decided, woke up one day and told Jack, I wanted to build a park for the community."

Fast forward to now, the park now offers several playgrounds, a fishing and swimming pond with paddle boats, a picnic pavilion and even a dog park.

"It's grown so fast with the popularity because we get people from out in the country all gather here." said Lorraine, "It's almost to be centrally located between Port Clinton, Oak Harbor, Fremont."

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Jeff Hartledge, from Oak Harbor, visited the park on Sunday with his grandkids for the first time. His wife spotted the park on the road going toward Port Clinton.

"It blew my mind, especially given that this is all private. this is crazy," said Jeff. "But yea it's huge and I see a lot of potential."

Recently, someone stole some children's chairs and a table from the pavilion. But the community quickly responded online, helping to raise money to replace them.

"The community rallied and were sending donations," Zimmerman said, "and very next morning I had a school teacher drop off six chairs."

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More development is planned for this summer - with a basketball court and two pickleball courts currently under construction.

"We belong to Ohio contractors association and they are doing the basketball and pickleball courts as their, the Toledo chapter's, community service project," said Lorraine.

It's been a long road but she says the smiles on kids' faces have made it all worth it.

"Seven or eight of them all came running over to me and all together they said, thank you for building this park," said Lorraine, "and it was really touching that they all appreciated it."

They plan to continue growing the park in and for the community.

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