Parks need better oversight
Many of us find it disconcerting in recent times that many governmental agencies don’t seem to be doing their job of enforcing laws and regulations made to protect our health, safety and the environment.
Perhaps the king of agencies that many of us feel is breaking laws, avoiding transparency, and ignorant of why it was established is our Geauga Park District run by the (Judge Timothy) Grendell and (park Executive Director John) Oros. Their latest foible was planning on turning our Observatory Park into a strictly snowmobiling park from open until close. The plan was snowmobiling throughout the winter with no people allowed other than snowmobilers. This plan would also surely have resulted in the park loosing the coveted Dark Sky Designation by the International Dark Sky Association since lights from the snowmobiles would have been a disaster to telescope use after dark. By Dec. 13 at the park commissioners meeting the plan had been changed likely due to numerous complaints. As it presently stands, snowmobiling will be allowed only during the daylight hours and only to a select group of snowmobiling club members. Another example of a giveaway of a public asset to a private group? Another illegality?
The park district would lessen the likelihood of problems like this arising if instead of prohibiting public comment at commissioners meeting they would actually encourage and listen to comments.
One half of the current park dictatorship, Mr. Oros, can’t seem to manage to be even civil to the public at park activities. At the park district appreciation day this last September the Park District advertised that “the next county commissioner” Mr. Lennon would be at swine creek park to talk to the public. (Another illegality using public funds to promote a person running for office.) Mr. Oros was also there participating in the event. I walked up to Mr. Oros and stated I did not see Mr. Lennon around. Mr. Oros turned around and walked away from me. I then asked if the judge had ordered him not to speak to me. Mr. Oros then stated twice, “I don’t have to talk to you”. A formal complaint to the commissioners regarding this incident resulted in not even being contacted.
As a nearly 40-year resident of this county I can honestly say the rank and file employees of the park district have been helpful and courteous and are to be commended for their efforts over the years. As the president of Protect Geauga Parks has stated, the problem with the parks is “Top Rot.” We need a better way of picking park commissioners. Putting too much authority over parks in one probate judge who has no clue about why parks districts were established is a recipe for a disaster.
It’s time for some serious change: Change in leadership. Change in appointing park commissioners who actually have an interest in natural areas. Change in more transparency. Change in open discussion. Come on Ohio legislators. What are you waiting for?
John G. Augustine, Parkman Township
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