Levy passage means improvements to Clermont County Parks
Sheila Vilvens- email@example.com
Staff members of the Clermont County Park District are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on a long to do list following recent passsage of the parks levy.
Parks Director Chris Clingman said he is pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming support of the community on election day. He expressed his gratitude to both the voters and the volunteers involved in the levy campaign.
The 0.5-mill tax parks levy, to be collected for the next 10 years, will enable the park district to get started on a fix list totaling about $1 million and much more.
There are a lot of things that have been identified through the park district’s strategic planning efforts conducted over the last couple of years, Clingman said. Some items are simply improvements and much-needed repairs. These are tasks that will begin as soon as weather permits.
These tasks include work like painting the Hartman cabin, putting a new roof on the naturalist’s office in Chilo, and other maintenance things that were deferred, Clingman said.
Other things, the bigger projects, require architect and engineering work, he said. The park district is focused on completing Shor Park, for example. This project requires planning and community input, he said.
“We’ve been operating short staffed for much of this past summer and into the fall here so we’re going to try to get some of our staff positions filled which will help complete some of the smaller projects that need to be done, Clingman said.
Park improvements benefit the county, according to Clermont County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mark Calitri. One of the central questions of the CVB is what does the county have to offer visitors. One of the biggest benefits of this region is outdoor recreation, which is the primary reason the CVB supported this levy, he said.
“We found that there’s a strong correlation between the strong trails and attracting that visitor,” Calitri said. The trails and waterways attract people interested in hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking. They are also of benefit to residents.
The county already has the Williamsburg to Batavia Hike Bike Trail, Calitri said. A considerable amount of that is complete. The next big project is to look at the Ohio River Trail. This trail now connects downtown to Anderson Township. There is talk of extending the trail through Anderson Township to the Clermont County border and then extending it on out to New Richmond, he said.
Planning and engineering work will be needed in order to continue work on bike/hike trails in the county, Clingman said.
There are a lot of grants out there for park development but they don’t necessarily pay for engineering and architectural work, he said. With plans in place, the county will be able to pursue grants. Even with grant dollars, matching funds are typically required, he added.
Thanks to the levy, Clingman said citizens will see noticeable improvements in the coming year and hearing more details about upgrades and changes being made to existing parks, and some new properties “coming on board.”
The Ten Mile Creek Preserve is a new property the park district would like to get open. There are also plans of working on a new park and preserve with Grailville up outside of Loveland, he said.
“We want to move all those things forward,” Clingman said. “There are other opportunities out there too. At this point, we’ve got a lot on the plate and we’re getting ready to roll on them.”