Orange Township residents have the opportunity Nov. 5 to vote for additional bike paths and park equipment upgrades that could result from the renewal of a 1.5-mill parks levy.
If approved, the levy, which would continue to cost homeowners $46 annually per $100,000 in property value, is expected to raise $1.54 million each year.
Orange Township parks board Chairman Len Fisher said if voters renew the levy, the collected funds will be used to purchase playground equipment for Walker Woods Park and to build bike trails and walking paths throughout the township, including trails that would cross over U.S. Route 23 and lead to the aquatic center and North Orange Park. Fisher said plans also are in place to connect trails to already-existing ones in Powell and Liberty and Genoa townships.
“It’s been shown, study after study, that when you have trails and parks, your property values go up,” he said. “Studies done in Columbus near the Olentangy Trail show that if you’re fairly close to a trail, the value of your home is about 10 percent more,” he said.
Fisher also pointed out there are other, more obvious reasons for developing more trails and upgrading the parks in Orange Township.
“The quality of life, of course, is much better when the kids have parks to play in and they have parks to practice their sports in and residents have trails to walk and bicycle on,” he said.
Fisher said having money available for projects also is important, because whether the township receives park grants relies on already having funds in the bank.
The trails that are expected to connect at Route 23 will be funded, in part, through a $1 million grant awarded by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. Fisher said the township’s portion of the cost to get the project going will be available only if voters approve the renewal levy.
“When we apply for grants, we usually have to match the funds we will receive or pay for the majority of the project, so the more Orange Township can spend from a park levy, the more likely we are to get grant dollars from the federal government and from the state government,” he said.
Funds from the levy that was approved in 2010 were used to build a pool at North Orange Park and add walking and biking trails along Orange Road and the railroad tracks. The parks board also developed Ro Park, which now has ball fields, walking trails, a picnic area and playground equipment.
All the park land in Orange Township has been donated, and levies allow those parks to be developed, Fisher said. In addition to the acreage near the Walker Woods subdivision that lacks playground equipment, there are two more parcels currently awaiting development: one near Little Bear Village and another on North Road near Orange High School.