Stark Parks’ popularity is growing, and park district personnel hope that plays to their advantage when voters consider a 1-mill, eight-year property tax levy that’s on the ballot as Issue 55.
“I think people are beginning to recognize the importance we have in the community,” Park Director Bob Fonte said. “All you have to do is ride by Hoover High School or Washington Square or GlenOak High School to see the activity level. It’s an opportunity to live healthier and people are taking advantage of it.”
The park district will ask North Canton and Stark County residents for a vote of “yes” to approve the levy, which includes a .5-mill replacement and .5-mill increase.
It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $30.63 a year, Fonte said.
“We tell a family of four, ‘If you go to the parks once, you save that much in gas and entry fees and everything else you can think of for something that’s recreational,’” he said.
The levy will cover the park district’s general operating costs and maintain existing resources as well as keep up on the quality of its facilities, trails, picnic areas and nature centers.
Not only that, the district uses it to qualify for outside funding — for existence, matching funds to obtain new grants.
Stark Parks maintains 80 miles of trails and 7,200 acres, traveling through 26 of Stark County’s 36 communities. Fonte said Stark Parks is now working with those communities to expand access within the city limits, making the trails and parks more convenient to the people who use them.
“They’re their parks; we’re working hard to make them easily accessible to them so they can use them without driving anywhere,” Fonte said. “And we’re continuing to open up trails like the Hoover and Middlebrach trails. It shows how much people enjoy them when they have easy access to them.”
Issue 55 already has received the thumbs-up, with endorsements from the North Canton Area Chamber of Commerce and Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Looking for more information on Issue 55? Fonte suggests checking out the Stark Parks website and its Your Stark Parks page.