Miami County Parks focus on maintaining offerings

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Miami County Parks focus on maintaining offerings

After years of growth, the Miami County Park District is concentrating more these days on maintaining its wide range of offerings.

The district, which now makes its home at the Lost Creek Reserve at the former Knoop Farm just east of Troy, has 2,036 acres including its 15 parks along with 509 acres in conservation easements.

Scott Myers, formerly with the Springfield and Piqua park systems and then assistant county park district director, has been the county parks executive director since 2012.

“The park district went through a great growth period. From a funding standpoint and from a needs standpoint do we need to get more land? I am not so sure,” Myers said.

“If a unique property comes along, we will definitely look or an area to connect onto the bike trail, but that is not our focus,” he added.

Now, more emphasis is taking care of what the district has under its purview, Myers said.

The district’s three-member board and an advisory committee have been working long term on a strategic plan at the same time that state funding has declined because of changes in the tangible personal property tax.

When the district last obtained voter approval of a 10-year levy in 2009, the understanding was the tax would be phased out over a number of years.

That changed, though, when the state decided to end the tax years early in 2012. That meant a loss of more than $600,000 the district had anticipated in planning the 10 years covered by the levy.

At the same time, grant programs are not as prevalent and those available offer fewer dollars for property purchases and improvements.

“We cannot do a lot of new stuff, but we should be able to maintain OK,” Myers said. The district has an annual budget of about $2.6 million. It has 17 full time staff members and, depending on the time of year, 30 to 50 employees total. It also has active intern and volunteer programs.

“We are not changing, we are sort of evolving,” Myers said. “We have to stay true to our core. You have to take care of the fundamentals: still have clean, safe parks, make sure areas are trimmed and trails are cleared.”

More information on the district’s parks and programs is available at www.miamicountyparks.com.

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