Stretching park district resources
My hat’s off to the Geauga Park District commissioners for going ahead with the purchase of the Wicked Woods Golf Course land and facilities off of Route 44 just north of 322.
Maybe this will mark a change in the direction of Grendell’s Geauga parks which has seriously neglected land acquisition since his takeover as probate judge and co-director of the Geauga Parks. Or maybe not!
On the negative side, at the Geauga Park District Commissioners meeting on Nov. 13, the commissioners indicated that they intended to go ahead with a reduction of the upcoming park district renewal levy. With projected increasing costs such as new property to manage (the Wicked Woods) and the parklands of Russell Township of which they recently signed a contract for long term management (Russell will not pay for the management) one wonders what will end up being cut to make ends meet. The way they shuffle funds from one budget category to another, it’s hard to tell.
Likely, the hammer will fall on protecting endangered species, protecting disappearing natural areas, hiring more folks in the already overworked natural resource management and naturalist departments and forging protection such as conservation easements for the open space surrounding our parks lands which will likely result in housing developments right up to park boundaries.
In all the more than 50 years of our Geauga Parks, I don’t believe the voters have ever failed to pass a renewal levy and I believe the support for preserving, conserving and protecting is stronger than ever. If the voters wanted the park district to do less they would not keep passing renewal or new levies. Let the voters decide.
Likely the park commissioners will keep spending on amusements like face painting and $100,000 climbing walls instead of automating the Nassau telescope so disabled people can actually use it rather than just look at it. Likely the park commissioners will keep spending on expensive billboards and television ads instead of beefing up the Natural Resource Management (biologists) department that has fewer personnel than during pre-Grendell times yet more natural areas to manage. My fear is that when red ink becomes pervasive in future budgets the commissioners will fire naturalists and replace them with low budget recreational directors. After all, amusements seem a higher priority than preserve, conserve, protect.
See for yourself by viewing the video of the last park commissioners meeting at protectgeaugaparks.us. Note, you will still not see any public comments, questions or suggestions at the meeting since they still prohibit public input.
John G. Augustine
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