To the Editor:
In 1986 I was appointed as a Wood County Park District Commissioner. At that time, the WCPD consisted of Otsego and Wm. Henry Harrison Parks and a very loose agreement with the County to “maintain” the Old Infirmary building and grounds. Then Director/Secretary Lyle Fletcher and two part-time laborers were expected to maintain those facilities on a budget of about $60,000 provided by the County Commissioners. The entirety of the Park District’s equipment consisted of a beat-up pickup truck and a temperamental riding mower. On my first visit with Lyle to Otsego Park and the building which for many years hosted hundreds of family events, I gagged with the stench emanating from the inoperable restrooms; and nearly fell over when the railing on the stairs leading to the river collapsed when I leaned on it for support. In the interest of public safety we closed the park shortly thereafter. Wood County ranked 87 out of 88 counties in the amount of land dedicated for parks and recreation.
My fellow commissioners, Martha Kudner and George Thompson, and I realized that the only way to restore, protect and build on the natural and historic resources available to Wood County residents was to secure a dedicated source of funding. That led to the passage in 1988 of a .5 mill, 10-year levy which established the WCPD as a viable entity. Since that time, two more 10-year levies have been approved by the voters and the District now provides and protects 22 parks and facilities encompassing over 1200 acres of precious natural resources.
One of the continuing components of that original 1988 levy was the Local Park Improvement Grant Program. The Board felt that a program of assistance to local communities for improvement of their own park areas and facilities would maximize the benefit of the Park District levy for each county resident. Since its inception over $2,100,000 has been awarded to 34 cities, villages and townships in Wood County.
On May 8, the Park District is asking voters to allow it to continue protecting our precious natural resources, provide quality parks and recreation opportunities, and to continue to assist local entities in improving their local recreation areas by approving a 10-year renewal of the existing 1 mill levy. This is a renewal levy – Your taxes will not go up! Please show your support for our superb Wood County Park District by voting on May 8!