Streetsboro -- It's far from a done deal, but members of the Streetsboro Parks, Recreation and Conservation Advisory Committee briefly discussed the possibility of a bond issue to help support park improvements in the city.
The topic arose during a discussion at the committee's June 3 meeting of the Parks Master Plan revision, which is moving ahead since new Parks and Recreation Director Missy Hatch has joined the city.
No millages were discussed, nor were there any projects mentioned that might be funded by a property tax bond, but committee member Larry Puleo said it may be an idea worth investigating "so the parks and recreation department can do what it wants to do."
The first half of 2014 included a tug-of-war over about $100,000 that was originally slated to be used to build a parking lot at the city's newest park, Thomas Heritage Park on Route 303 next to Target. Council instead decided to spend money to update the backstops at the ballfields at City Park.
Puleo said if people are willing, placing a bond on the ballot would be a way to improve the parks quickly.
"If people are willing to pay for it and bond it, let people pay for it," he said.
Mayor Glenn Broska said it's ultimately up to Council whether to place a bond issue on the ballot, adding the parks could use the money.
"We certainly do not have the kind of funding in the budget now to fund a large program," he said. "If they can convince Council that that's the way to go, and Council puts it out there, I'll definitely sign the legislation."
Puleo suggested Hatch place a question on a survey being developed to gauge the community's feelings about the Parks Master Plan. Hatch said she thinks the survey will be available in August or September at the latest.
"I think it's a great suggestion," said Hatch, adding she already had incorporated a question on the survey about a bond issue.
Committee Chair Carmen Laudato said it would help to get cost estimates for different projects envisioned in the master plan before asking Council to place an issue on the ballot.
Broska said the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Committee should imitate the process the city went through with its Comprehensive Plan update to develop recommendations for changes to the Parks Master Plan, hosting public forums, a survey and a conducting a line-by-line review of the document.
"We have to plan for this. They may be right; there may be a need to put a levy on," said Broska. "At the same time, we have to remember there are a lot of other people in town who don't play soccer, and they've asked for some kind of a recreation center. We're going to have to take all that into consideration when the time comes."
Broska said the biggest challenge of these types of planning processes is making sure a representative sample of the community offers their input, through surveys, public forums and other means. He also agreed with Laudato that cost estimates for projects should be developed before the committee could make a formal recommendation for a bond issue.
Committee member Dick Rynearson suggested studying the community's response to the Portage Park District's levy.
"In thinking about whether to do this, it would be nice to know whether there was support for that levy [in Streetsboro]," he said, adding he would talk to parks support and Ferguson Road resident Helen Gregory and Christine Craycroft, executive director of the Portage Parks District about their campaign.
FB: The Gateway News/Bob Gaetjens