Our vision is pretty simple, really. It's about life. It's about conserving our most vital natural resources that help protect clean air, clean water and wildlife habitat. It's about creating a system of parks and trails across the county for public benefit and enjoyment that yield tremendous health, economic and quality of life benefits. It's about providing the places where some of our most precious memories are made. It's about conserving Portage County's heritage and leaving a proud legacy for the future.
Thanks to many public and private partners, we have started to make progress on that vision. Your Portage Parks now manages 1,300 acres of land and 14 miles of hike and bike trails across the county. Open parks include Towner's Woods, Dix Park, Seneca Ponds, the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, Headwaters Trail and Berlin Lake Trail. But over 800 acres of land that is already publicly owned is not yet available for regular public use. We have great potential, but need public support to make it a reality.
Issue 10 is the proposed 0.5-mill, 10-year levy that the park district has placed on the May 6 ballot. If approved, here is what we envision for Portage Parks over the next 10 years:
n Improvements to our existing parks and trails so they are clean, safe and accessible to all.
n Parks created from land that the Park District already owns, starting with Chagrin Headwaters Preserve in Mantua Township, Morgan Preserve in Shalersville Township, Breakneck Creek Preserve in Ravenna Township and Walter Preserve in Palmyra Township.
n An interconnected system of hike and bike trails for healthy recreation and transportation in partnership with our communities and neighboring counties, including extending The Portage Hike and Bike Trail and the Headwaters Trail, and starting the Suffield to Aurora trail.
n Conserved and restored natural areas that are important for protecting wildlife habitat and water quality, and that provide additional public use and enjoyment opportunities.
n Programs in partnership with local schools, organizations and businesses to promote healthy recreation, nature education, historic preservation and community development.
We invite you to work with us in making this vision a reality. Help us plan for improving existing parks and creating new parks and trails. Vote for Issue 10 and contribute a few pennies a day as an investment in your family, your community and the future.
Each generation has an opportunity to leave its mark on the land. Our county has changed a lot over the last 100 years -- what will the next 100 bring? The visionaries that founded the Summit Metroparks and Cleveland Metroparks almost 100 years ago are long gone from this world, but their legacy lives on --what will be our legacy from this time? Support your Portage Parks and Issue 10 and join us in saying Parks Yes!
Chris Craycroft is executive director of the Portage Park District here in Portage County. Green Portage is a monthly feature of the Record-Courier in cooperation with the Portage Park District Foundation.