Preservation Parks of Delaware County may ask voters this November to approve a 10-year renewal levy plus additional millage to develop and open at least two new parks over the next decade.
The park district’s board of commissioners will consider a resolution at its June 8 meeting to place a 0.6-mill renewal levy plus a 0.3-mill addition on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election. The district’s current levy expires at the end of 2018 and collections from the new levy, if approved, would begin in 2019.
“We decided we would ask for a slight increase so that we could put more towards land acquisition, new park developments and extend trails,” said Tom Curtin, Preservation Parks executive director, at a news conference at Shale Hollow Park.
The park district owns 115 acres in Delaware Township on Pollock Road and, by July, will own 117 acres in Orange Township, which would be a priority over the next levy cycle. There is also a third location on the northeast side of the county, but it’s under different property ownership.
The new parks would be used for hiking, bird-watching, picnicking, nature exploration and educational programs similar to the district’s nine existing parks.
Development would start within two to three years after 2019 for the Pollock Road location, Curtin said.
Additionally, the district sees an opportunity to provide more services to school districts in Delaware County such as Olentangy, said Dan Boysel, board chairman. Eighth graders from that district planted trees Friday (May 19) at the Orange Township property, which also includes a Bicentennial Barn that would be renovated for public use.
The current levy costs the owner of $100,000 home about $19 per year and provides about $3.57 million annually for the district. With the addition, the new levy would cost the same homeowner $28.68 per year and bring in an additional $2.1 million a year.
Property taxes make up about 80 percent of the district’s funding, Curtin said. The previous 10-year levy allowed Preservation Parks to open three new parks including Shale Hollow; increase the amount of protected land from 965 acres to 1,410, complete several segments of the Ohio to Erie Trail and add 13 acres of wetlands and 80 acres of prairie. It also increased the number of educational programs.
But the current levy passed with nearly 52 percent of the vote, Curtin said, mainly because of awareness.
Marketing efforts are already under way to attract residents in southern Delaware County through social media and mail.
“It’s a challenge to increase that awareness in southern Delaware County,” Curtin said.
The future park at Delaware Township would continue the district’s natural play area concept as Preservation Parks intend its parks to be a temporary retreat from a developed world.
“Our focus is on the natural side,” Curtin said.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.