With new funding assured, Preservation Parks of Delaware County officials are poised to move at a quicker pace to develop new public green space around the county.
Preservation Parks' board in June voted to place a 10-year, 0.6-mill renewal levy with a 0.3 percent increase before voters on the Nov. 7 ballot. County residents overwhelmingly approved the request by a vote of 27,785 to 16,600, or about 63 percent to 37 percent, according to final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections.
Tom Curtin, executive director of Preservation Parks, said the vote shows residents want the system to move more quickly to complete planned projects
"We're going to continue to move ahead with the plans that we have to continue to acquire more lands and open new parks," he said
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 and develop 230 acres along Interstate 71 near Bale Kenyon Road in Orange Township and to expand Emily Traphagen Park just west of Powell.
Curtin said he thinks residents' excitement about those plans helped lead to the ballot victory.
Preservation Parks officials also pledged to develop new multiuse trails and offer grants to city, township and village governments in the county to help pay for additional connections.
Curtin said he thinks the promise of new grants, parks and trails all played a role in the successful levy request.
"I think it was a combination of everything," he said.
Curtin said increased use of the countywide park system also could have been a factor.
"We're up about 30 percent attendance-wise over last year," he said.
Increased attendance at the parks follows multiple changes last year designed to attract more visitors.
The park system in 2016 removed the word preserve from the names of its parks in an effort to avoid confusion about whether the land is open to the public. For example, Shale Hollow Preserve, off U.S. Route 23 near the border of Liberty and Orange townships, became known as Shale Hollow Park.
The system also installed playgrounds built with logs, stones and other natural materials at multiple parks last year.