By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
When voters see the Wood County Park District levy on the May 2018 ballot, park officials really hope the voters don’t confuse this levy with the park levy recently passed in Bowling Green.
Many local citizens seem to confuse the county park district with the Bowling Green parks and recreation department. And that has the county park board a bit worried about its 1-mill renewal levy set to appear on the May 8 ballot.
“There is a very big disconnect” between the two park programs, said Jamie Sands, volunteer services and communications specialist with the county park district. That could be particularly bad for the county park district if voters confuse the May levy with the city park and recreation levy passed in November.
“People think they’ve already passed the levy for the parks,” Sands said Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the Wood County Park District Board. “We’re hoping to get the word out.”
The county park board voted unanimously Tuesday to put a 1-mill levy on in May. Board President Denny Parish stressed that the renewal will be same millage sought when the park district last passed its levy in 2008.
“Which means no new taxes,” Parish said. For the last decade, the levy has generated about $2.8 million a year. That amount is expected to grow to $3 million a year because of new construction in the county. “It won’t cost individual homeowners more than they’ve been paying for the last 10 years.”
After Tuesday’s meeting, Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said the district is committed to not raising the tax burden on local residents. Over the last several years, the park district has focused funding on land acquisitions. That focus is about to shift.
“I think we’re looking at a maintenance phase,” Munger said.
Future land acquisitions will rely on grants or other funding options, he said. “We will be looking for other sources of funding rather than going to the taxpayers.”
In the meantime, the county park district will be continuing to try to get the word out to local residents about the county parklands and programs. Sands said a recent online survey received responses from more than 2,000 people. A park volunteer survey was completed by about 300 people. And a five-question survey will soon be sent out to “key decision makers” in the county.
The answers will be used to help formulate a strategic plan for the park district, and then pitch it to local residents.
“We want to tell everyone what our goals are for the future,” Sands said.
Visits are also being made to senior centers throughout the county to make older residents aware of the parks and services offered.
“A lot of people don’t know all the parks and services,” Sands said, stressing the number of free programs and wellness-based options. “We’re touting the health benefits of being in nature.”
The Wood County Park District has 20 sites throughout the county, including Adam Phillips Pond, Baldwin Woods Preserve, Bradner Preserve, Beaver Creek Preserve, Black Swamp Preserve, Buttonwood Recreation Area, Carter Historic Farm, Cedar Creeks Preserve, Fuller Preserve, William Henry Harrison Park, W.W. Knight Preserve, Otsego Park, Reuthinger Memorial Preserve, Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve, Slippery Elm Trail, Rudolph Savanna Area, Cricket Frog Cove Area, Wood County Historical Center, Zimmerman School, and the park district headquarters.
Park district activities include archery, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, geo-caching, hunting, rock rappelling, bicycling and bouldering.
Programs are offered throughout the year, including classes on wildlife, fire building, seed cleaning, beekeeping, trees, yoga, tai chi and camping.