The Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District (Metro Parks) looks to fulfill its commitment to New Albany, Plain Township and Columbus when it goes on the ballot May 5 to ask Franklin County residents for a 0.75-mill property-tax levy.

The Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District (Metro Parks) looks to fulfill its commitment to New Albany, Plain Township and Columbus when it goes on the ballot May 5 to ask Franklin County residents for a 0.75-mill property-tax levy.

Metro Parks executive director John O'Meara said a portion of the revenues generated from the levy would go to create a 1,200-acre park on the northern end of Plain Township, near Harlem Road and the Franklin-Delaware county line.

Metro Parks' current 0.65-mill operating levy expires this year, and the district will ask residents for a new 10-year levy, which would raise about $21.5-million annually.

The levy would cost a resident about $23 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value, O'Meara said. This is $10 more than Franklin County residents are currently paying under the depreciated 0.65-mill levy, which is collecting at 0.42 mill.

"We signed the agreement last February with the village of New Albany, Columbus and Plain Township," O'Meara said. "Since then, we have been acquiring land, and we have over 400 acres owned or under contract."

Last winter, the village approved the park plan and pledged $2.5-million, with part of that paid through a 107-acre donation valued at $650,000.

The Plain Township trustees voted Feb. 19, 2008, to give Columbus the option to annex 2,800 acres on the western part of the township, near Hamilton Road, said Joe Stefanov, village administrator.

As part of that deal, Columbus agreed to donate $7.5-million to the project -- $5-million on the city's behalf and $2.5-million on the township's behalf -- to make up for the revenue Plain Township would have received from the land Columbus annexed.

Metro Parks plans to donate $3-million and purchase the rest of the land with the money from the levy.

O'Meara said the rest of the money from the levy would go to open two other Metro Parks and run the 15 parks that already are open.

"It would allow us to expand programs for seniors and for school children," he said.

Plain Township administrator J.B. Bowe said a driving factor behind the decision to create a park was to reduce the amount of development in the 2,800-acre portion Columbus annexed. Under an agreement with Columbus, the annexed land may be developed at one house per acre.

The land deal also eliminated confusion over fire services for the area. Columbus is responsible for fire services for the 2,800 acres, whereas jurisdictions would have overlapped without it.

Stefanov said he thinks the park is a great idea for everyone.

"It was really a win-win for all the entities. I think each entity had its own reasons," he said. "Columbus had a desire to increase the density and move out of an area that was experiencing growth. The township was able to retain that rural corridor, and the village also wanted to retain the rural corridor and make sure it focused its development on the village center."

O'Meara said Metro Parks currently is in the process of identifying more land to purchase and making sure the levy is approved.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, Saperstein Associates conducted a poll of registered voters in January and found that about 72 percent of voters would support the levy. Bowe said he also thinks they would.

"People in the past have been supportive of the Metro Parks," he said. "I have no reason to believe they won't be this time."