Delaware County's parks system plans to preserve more land for use as parks and trails if voters approve a property-tax increase in the fall.
Preservation Parks of Delaware County's board is expected to vote June 8 to place a 10-year, 0.6-mill renewal levy plus a 0.3-mill increase on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Homeowners pay about $18 annually per $100,000 in property valuation to support the parks system under the current levy, which is set to expire at the end of 2018. They would pay $28.68 per $100,000 in property valuation starting in 2019 if voters approve the proposed levy.
The system's current levy provides about $3.57 million in annual revenue -- about 80 percent of its funding. The proposed levy would bring in an additional $2.1 million per year.
Tom Curtin, executive director of the parks system, said residents want more trail connections and new parks, particularly in the southern portion of the county.
"These are the people who are dealing with major development on a daily basis and really feel the need to see more land preserved," he said.
Curtin said the parks system could move quickly on the development of two new green spaces with the approval of the levy.
Preservation Parks owns about 115 acres off Pollock Road bounded by the Olentangy River to the west and Berlin Station Road to the east. The proposed park -- just outside Delaware's city limits -- is about 4 miles from the future site of Olentangy Berlin High School.
The system also is working to acquire about 230 acres along Interstate 71 near Bale-Kenyon Road in Orange Township.
Curtin said revenue from the levy also would be put toward completing links on the Ohio to Erie Trail, a path system that runs from the Ohio River to Lake Erie.
"We've been diligently working on the Ohio to Erie Trail, coming up from Columbus to Galena and Sunbury," he said. "We've been fortunate enough to acquire a couple of sections of railroad right of way in the past year, and we're continuing to talk with landowners in that area about acquiring additional right of way."
Curtin said parks officials also are looking at ways to tie the county's parks system into various townships' trails.
Dan Boysel, a member of the Preservation Parks board, said the proposed tax increase reflects the difficulties of growing a system within a booming real-estate market.
"As you look at how fast this county's growing, to keep up with that -- even to keep behind it -- it's just going to take a concerted effort," he said.
Curtin said without new revenue, the timelines to develop proposed parks and trails will be lengthened significantly.
"They'll be much, much slower to develop," he said.
Preservation Parks now oversees nine parks and three trails. The system's newest addition -- River Run Park in Troy Township -- gives visitors a spot to launch canoes in the Olentangy River north of Delaware.