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Metro Parks levy passes
People in central Ohio indicated they want to keep investing in the parks by passing the Metro Parks levy on May 5.
Unofficially, voters approved Issue 1 by a 58 to 42 percent margin with 52,495 favoring the levy and 38,392 opposing it.
"We are thrilled that the people of Franklin County chose to support our Metro Parks for another 10 years," said Jeff McNealey, campaign chair for Friends of Metro Parks. "For decades, Metro Parks has kept faith with Franklin County voters by offering free admission to all parks every day of the year, and continuously improving the excellence of the Metro Parks experience. That's exactly what the passage of Issue 1 will allow us to do for the next 10 years."
Added John O'Meara, Metro Parks executive director, "The 15 parks throughout central Ohio provide wonderful public recreational resources to our children, senior citizens and the entire community. The continued investment of the community will keep our parks vibrant for the future."
The approved 10 year, 0.75 mill levy on replaces a 10 year, 0.65 levy which expires at the end of 2009. The new levy will generate around $21.5 million annually and will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $23 a year, an increase of about $10 over the expiring levy.
According to Metro Parks officials, money from the new levy will be used to:
•maintain Metro Parks' 15 existing parks and expand programming;
•improve 2,300 acres of wildlife habitat and water quality within its parks by restoring 1,000 acres of wetlands and enhancing existing forests and prairies;
•conserve stream corridors and build 50 miles of Greenways trails - including the bridge over U.S. Route 33 that would connect Three Creeks Metro Parks' Blacklick Trail to Pickerington Ponds and Blacklick Woods to the northeast (bridge construction is expected to be bid in 2009-10); most of the Alum Creek Greenway from Three Creeks to Westerville could be completed by 2010; the entire planned 161 mile interconnected Greenways trail system could be almost half completed by the end of 2009;
•acquire land and restore habitat to protect species of Big Darby Creek and secure land adjacent to existing parks;
•expand the Scioto Audubon Metro Park on the Whittier Peninsula in downtown Columbus;
•open three proposed new parks: Rocky Fork Creek Park (which could eventually encompass 1,200 acres) in northeast Franklin County; the 482 acre Little Walnut Creek Park, situated on the former Eastside Nursery property, between Canal Winchester and Groveport; and the 192 acre Scioto River South Park near Grove City.
"We would like to tie trails from the new Little Walnut Creek park to the existing trail system in Groveport," O'Meara said at the Jan. 26 Groveport Village Council meeting.
Since 1999, Metro Parks has maintained parks for six million visitors a year; opened five new Metro Parks; added 80 miles of trails; conserved 7,500 acres of new park land and restored more than 1,000 acres of prairies, wetlands, and other wildlife habitat; increased protection for Big Darby Creek helping to save 37 threatened and endangered species; introduced pet trails; extended hours of operation; expanded services for seniors; and worked with more than 50,000 students each year in educational programs.
The percentage breakdown of Metro Parks' income sources is as follows:
•property tax, 54 percent;
•local government funds, 20 percent;
•grants, 12 percent;
•earned income, 8 percent;
•government partnerships, 4 percent;
•miscellaneous, 2 percent.
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