Improving parks high on Miami Twp. officials’ to-do list

A levy or joint park district are options being considered

Informal discussions have occurred between Miami Twp. and the city on the parks issue, officials said, but they noted previous joint ventures — such as the Miami Valley Fire District — have taken years.

Meanwhile, a consultant has suggested seeking a levy for parks, a top priority in the township’s recently completed strategic plan.

“The parks are very high on everyone’s to-do list,” Miami Twp. Board of Trustees President Doug Barry said. “So you’ll probably see something coming forward to determine which way the public wants us to go with the parks. Whether that’s a park district or whether that’s a levy, one of the things that everyone wants to see is our parks improved.”

Through its public works department, Miami Twp. operates nine parks covering 130 acres, according to its websites. But park maintenance has “declined at a significant rate,” documents state, since a 2012 decision to cut staff due to falling tax revenue.

The township’s parks can be funded only through inside millage in the township’s $19 million general fund. That fund has been cut by 33 percent in the past five years, documents show, and is what Township Administrator Greg Rogers called “the least funded of all of our funds.”

Asking township voters to support a levy was suggested by a consultant hired to examine operations in public works. Unless additional funding is secured, the township’s parks will deteriorate further, said Edward Livesay, business and financial strategist for Mosaic Strategic Partners in Dayton.

“There’s a lot to be done to get parks back where it needs to be,” he told township officials last week.

The concept of having a joint park district has been discussed informally, officials from the city and township said. But Miamisburg City Manager Keith Johnson said it is far too early in the process to gauge whether both jurisdictions can mutually benefit on the issue.

Joint involvements such as the fire district, participation in regional dispatch and a cemetery agreement are examples where “the city and the township are working together … successfully,” Johnson said.

While he noted such efforts will continue, Johnson pointed out the formation of the fire district occurred “over a period of years” and not without intense scrutiny.

In the coming weeks, trustees said they will need to decide whether to place a levy on the fall ballot and decide on a specific millage by the Aug. 5 deadline to file. In between now and then, officials said they plan to hold public sessions to obtain community feedback.