Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, is asking county voters to renew a 1.46-mill levy that raises about $15.8 million annually for the park district.
The levy is not a new tax and it’s not an increase, said Keith Shy, the park district’s secretary-director.
The levy, first approved by voters in 2006, would be used for the day-to-day operations, programs, development and improvement of the park district and is its only source of public money.
The seven-year issue costs homeowners $44.71 per $100,000 of valuation.
“We still have a lot of big dreams,” Shy said. “We’re not done.”
Future plans that would be funded by the levy include limited development of Wood Hollow Metro Park off Barlow Road in Hudson. It is working to put together a plan for a new Maple Grove Park on former state-owned land in Hudson.
A new nature center is being developed at Liberty Park in Twinsburg.
The Freedom Trail would be extended from Tallmadge to Akron’s Northside Station.
According to a new study, the park district has made a significant financial impact on the Akron area.
Annually, the park district has nearly a $42 million positive impact on Summit County property values, according to the study by the University of Akron and Lux Research LLC.
It is the first such look at the benefits of the park district in its 92-year history.
According to the study, funded by the Metro Parks Foundation, the park district also provides:
• $17 million in health benefits for park users.
• $3 million in tourist-related income for Summit County.
• 288 jobs, including 80 non-Metro Parks jobs, leading to $7.8 million a year in earnings to boost the local economy.
• Nearly $5 million in savings to Summit County communities in stormwater management costs.
Shy said park officials were “blindsided” to learn that the park district was such a regional attraction.
“It stunned us … and it’s flattering,” he said.
The park district has an unspent balance of about $16 million, Shy said, calling it necessary if the park district wants to make a major purchase. It is also helpful because the park district, in many cases, must put up its money for grant projects before it is reimbursed later.
The district received nearly $19.9 million in grants for park projects from 2007 through 2012.
The park district has 14 parks and conservation areas that cover 11,500 acres. There are three multi-purpose trails and a total of 125 miles of trails.
In 2012, about 5.3 million visitors used the parks.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.