LAKE TWP. — Voters decisively rejected a levy request for parks funding in Lake Township.
The proposed 10-year, 2-mill levy was voted down 70 percent to 30 percent, a difference of 2,561 votes.
“Obviously, I’m a little bit disappointed. I think I was surprised by the margin of victory on the ‘no’ side,” Lake Township Trustee Jeremy Yoder said Wednesday.
If the levy passed, the township planned to turn a 95-acre plot of land on Midway Street NW into the Midway Community Park, the township’s first central community park.
It’s clear residents don’t want the park, Yoder said.
The Midway Street land is adjacent to the township’s Road Department. In December, trustees approved purchasing an additional 18 acres of wooded land to be used for the proposed park, contingent on the levy passing.
Trustees will not go forward with the purchase.
The township will continue to maintain the rest of the land as open space, Yoder said.
There are several possible reasons the levy failed, Yoder said.
Recent property tax re-appraisals meant that the timing wasn’t exactly right, he said. Other voters may not want change in the township.
“I think there’s a lot of individuals who are just content with the things the way they are here. It makes me nervous about the future,” he said.
Yoder said he viewed the park as an economic stimulant. Trustees did research showing that the park would have created a positive cash flow, increased home values and driven more business to the township.
“I think it’s just a matter of a mindset. I think if it would have passed, it would have been truly beneficial for the township, not just for now but for a long time to come. And I think it would have paid for itself with an economic structure we don’t currently have,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge to have that economic stimulus without a feature like (the park).”
“We’ll see how it plays out,” he added.
Voters also rejected a proposed park levy in Plain Township, though by a smaller margin.
A proposed five-year, 1.5-mill levy failed 55 percent to 45 percent, a difference of 352 votes.
The levy, which would have generated about $1.17 million annually, would have gone toward current parks and recreation operations.
“We’ve certainly clearly heard what voters have to say,” said Trustee John Sabo Tuesday night.
The township will reevaluate its current park operations, which are supported through the general fund. And officials will look at money-generating programs and other funding avenues, such as grants, Sabo said.
“We’re not going to give up on our parks either. We’re going to continue to look at what options we have,” he said. “But our general fund can only sustain so much.”
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