ST. MARYS — Heritage Trails Park District Executive Director Allison Brady said the goal of the park district is to get people outside.
To help achieve that goal, the park district is trying to expand the park district in Auglaize County. On the May 6 ballot, the district is asking for a 0.6 mill levy to help fund its ambitions. Brady discussed the levy with members of the St. Marys Rotary Club on Wednesday at its regular meeting.
“We are a part of this community and a part of this county,” Brady said.
Since its inception, the park district has operated on a small portion of local government funds dispersed annually to various political subdivisions. However, that funding has been cut more than 75 percent since 2011, Brady said, causing the need to go to voters.
“The money will be used to support park development and operations in Auglaize County,” Brady said.
The levy will cost about $21 annually for a $100,000 home, Brady said. She said the levy will provide educational programs for schools, youth and adults, funding to develop more parks and other recreational activities, grants for political subdivisions throughout the county to assist in developing parks, recreational and historical programming, wellness and fitness events, funds for matching grants to leverage state and federal grant opportunities, and stable funding to operate current parks.
“There are many grants out there for park divisions,” Brady said. “We want to be able to have matching funds and be able to supply grants to political subdivisions so we can provide safe and well-maintained parks.
Brady said the district owns about 40 acres of land and water in Auglaize County. Included in that is the new Dr. Elizabeth Yahl Kuffner Nature Preserve, which is the first native acre wood lot in the county. The property has more than 1.4 miles of loop hiking trails and has been under construction for improvements in the first quarter of 2014. Lock 14 Park, Deep Cut Historical Part, Bloody Bridge Trail Head, and eight miles of the towpath trail along the Miami and Erie Canal in Noble and Salem Townships are owned by the park district.
Brady asked Rotary members to encourage friends and family to vote for the levy.
“You are the ones we are counting on to get to the polls,” Brady said.