On the heels of completing a new master plan, and with work still going on at the individual park planning level, the Board of Park Commissioners for Great Parks of Hamilton County is approving a levy request for the November ballot.
The board Thursday approved a 10-year, 1.8 mill levy. This would be in addition to the current 10-year, one mill levy that runs through 2026.
"We've been hearing a lot of great ideas about continuing to expand our greenspace footprint, adding new facilities, (and) making significant improvements," says Todd Palmeter, CEO of Great Parks. "We want to do those things but in order to do those things we're going to need additional funding to support them."
He says there are also some critical infrastructure projects.
Palmeter says expanding and adding trails is the number one priority the park district heard from the public. Great Parks wants to do some major multi-use trail building, such as connecting Glenwood Gardens to Winton Woods; connecting the Mill Creek corridor to Sharon Woods, then Sharon Woods to Winton Woods; and expanding the Little Miami Scenic Trail further south.
The board debated between 1.8 and 1.9 mill proposals, settling on 1.8 as sufficient to meet the parks' needs. Collection would begin in 2021 and run through 2031.
"The master plan process has made it very clear that to sustain the parks, move forward and better serve our guests, additional funding is necessary," says Marcus Thompson, Board of Park Commissioners president.
While the current economic climate might seem non-conducive to floating a tax increase, Palmeter says levy advisors tell them this is actually a good time. Parks were some of the few places to stay open when the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown began.
"We've had record-setting trail attendance numbers and visitation numbers and they continue to be higher than they were last year," he says. "Every month we continue to set new attendance records over last year."
The levy would cost about $63 per year for every $100,000 of home value, or $5.25 per month. It would be in addition to the current levy amount of $34.40 annually per $100,000 of home value.
This story was corrected at 10:23 a.m. to fix a spelling error.