Metroparks seeks 1.4 mill replacement levy
The Board of Park Commissioners is seeking a 1.4 mill replacement levy on the Nov. 6, 2007 ballot to fund Metroparks operations for the next decade.
The board action followed the recommendation of a 30-member citizen review committee that met this winter and assessed the park district’s needs through 2017. The committee recommended a 10-year levy, which would replace an identical levy approved in 1997. The new levy would be collected beginning in 2009.
“We can do it without a new tax because we are committed to holding the line on spending increases, just like everyone has to do with their own budgets in their home or business,” said Jack Gallon, president of the three-member, volunteer board.
The board, which also includes Scott J. Savage and Larry Sykes, voted unanimously July 18 to place the levy on the ballot. A replacement levy would generate $12.6 million per year to fund day-to-day operations and capital improvements at 12 existing Metroparks, including Toledo Botanical Garden, which joined the park district last year. The cost to the owner of a $100,000 home would be $42.88 per year, an increase of $1.32 per month.
“We are doing more with less by improving efficiency and leveraging grants and donations to stretch tax dollars, giving taxpayers good value for their investment,” said Jim Spengler, director-secretary of the park district. “Our goal is to limit spending increases to no more than 3 percent per year, meaning our expenditures will not grow faster than the average household.”
In the last 10 years, the levy, combined with grants and donations, funded the expansion of Wildwood Preserve and Pearson Metroparks and the paved Wabash Cannonball Trail, among other improvements.
In the next 10 years, the park district plans to open the Fallen Timbers Battlefield in Maumee; the Blue Creek Conservation Area in Whitehouse; the 300-acre addition to Pearson; a 28-acre park on the Maumee River in downtown Toledo known as the Middlegrounds; and a greenway with an all-purpose trail from Secor to Oak Openings Preserve Metroparks.
In a survey of 1,000 Lucas County residents conducted by Stanford H. Odesky & Associates, 90 percent said they had visited a Metropark in the past year; 41 percent said they had visited at least once a month. In the same survey, nine out of 10 people gave the park district an A or B grade, and 95 percent agreed or strongly agreed that Metroparks are a good value for their tax dollars.
In 2006, more than 104,000 people attended educational programs and special events, and more than 4,000 volunteers contributed 41,800 hours of service to the parks.
Metroparks of the Toledo Area is a regional park system that preserves 9,200 acres, including natural areas in the rare Oak Openings region in western Lucas County; the Great Black Swamp and Lake Erie Coastal Zone east of Toledo; and stream corridors along the Maumee River, Ottawa River and Swan Creek.
Parks owned by the district are: Bend View and Farnsworth in Waterville, Blue Creek Conservation Area in Whitehouse, Oak Openings Preserve near Swanton, Pearson in Oregon, Providence in Providence Township, Secor in Berkey, Side Cut and Fallen Timbers Battlefield in Maumee; Swan Creek Preserve and Toledo Botanical Garden in Toledo and Wildwood Preserve in Sylvania Township, as well as the University/Parks Trail and the Wabash Cannonball Trail.
Historical sites include sections of the Miami and Erie Canal, the Wildwood Manor House, sites significant in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, a late-1800s one-room school, an Underground Railroad house and a Black Swamp cabin.