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Levy funds irmpovements at Greene County parks

New bridges installed, the demolition of the former Blue Jacket amphitheater and a canoe launch are among the projects completed last year at parks in Greene County.

Signs throughout the county’s network of parks and trails mark where work was completed with funds provided through the .9-mill levy that voters approved in 2015.

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The five-year tax generates approximately $3.3 million a year for Greene County Parks & Trails. Annually, $1 million is set aside for maintaining bike trails, about $1 million for capital improvements and the rest covers operational expenses and grants provided to other entities, according to parks officials.

Chuck Frazier, chief ranger and GCP&T director of operations, said the money is used to give back to the community through improvements to parks and trails.

“None of these things would be possible without support from the public,” Frazier said.

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Improvements were made in at least seven of the district’s 29 parks, including a new wraparound deck installed at the Clifton Lodge Reserve; new bridges at Sara Lee Arnovitz Reserve and Indian Mound Reserve; a canoe launch and a new raptor aviary at the Narrows Reserve; fencing at Kinsey Mound Reserve; and renovations to the former home of the Russ family at Russ Nature Preserve.

GCP&T also used the tax revenue to purchase a new ranger vehicle, as well as a passenger van and a pickup truck that are used for the naturalist programs. The revenue was also used to provide grants to Owen’s Place, a recreation area accessible to individuals of all ages and abilities, in Beavercreek; the village of Yellow Springs and the village of Cedarville.

The demolition of the former Blue Jacket amphitheater at Caesar’s Ford Park, which garnered lots of attention in 2017, is nearly complete, Frazier said.

“We’re doing our best to get portions of that park open to the public,” he said.

Public meetings are planned but not yet scheduled to explore the future of Caesar’s Ford Park. Frazier said one concept is to create a year-round campground at the park.

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Other capital improvement plans for this year include continuing to renovate the former Russ family home at Russ Nature Preserve, 2380 Kemp Road.

A large hickory tree stands in the middle of the home.

“It was a signature piece for that property and it’s important to preserve it,” Frazier said. “We want to keep the features to pay homage to the family who gave it to us.”

Plans to repave about 10,000 feet of the Wright Brothers-Huffman Prairie Bikeway could impact commuters, as the section that runs parallel to Kauffman Avenue near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will be temporarily closed in early spring to accommodate the work, park officials said.

The bikeway connects downtown Dayton to Fairborn and WPAFB as well as Wright State University.

Frazier said the dilapidated concrete along the bike path will be replaced with asphalt. That work and the closure is expected to be completed before the riding season gets underway in April.

Other work planned for this year include repaving tennis courts at the Fairgrounds Recreational Center and at the Frank Seaman Park in Jamestown.

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