Sunday, October 10, 1999

Boone County developing plan for area's green spaces

Parks department compiling surveys

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Planners want a way to add more park land and preserve the green space areas Boone County already has. Residents say they want swimming pools, walking and hiking trails and maybe recreational facilities.

        Soon, a parks master plan may reflect all those desires.

        Officials from the Boone County Parks and Recreation Department are working to compile 4,500 surveys in a database to examine the park needs of county residents.

        “We're surprised,” Deputy County Administrator John Stanton said. “The previous record in one of these Brandstetter studies is 2,000. It wouldn't surprise me if we get 6,000 to 8,000.”

        The county hired Brandstetter Carroll Inc., an architectural, engineering and planning firm, to identify areas of need.

        “North of (Interstate) 275 there's a real shortage of parks,” said Pat Hoagland, a landscape architect for the firm. “Also in the Richwood area between Walton and Florence.”

        County officials are also working to create a nonprofit conservation foundation.

        “It's a means to coordinate and facilitate the acquisition of land,” Mr. Stanton said. “No. 1, it can mover quicker than government. And many people prefer to give to a nonprofit organization rather than to government.”

        For example, Procter & Gamble recently donated $1.25 million to the Nature Conservancy, a private nonprofit organization, to support two Ohio resources — the 86-mile Big Darby Creek in central Ohio and the 12,000-acre Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County — and a major conservation effort in Brazil.

        Foundations can also offer tax benefits to people who donate and can leverage gifts by meeting state and federal grants programs.

        The county is modeling the foundation after the Olmsted Park Conservancy in Louisville and hopes it will be fully functional by Jan. 1.

        The 1989 Boone County Open Space Master Plan recommended the creation of a foundation that would support county parks and conservation efforts. The 1997 Strategy for Meeting Boone County's Recreation Future and the 1998 Western Boone County Study also made the same recommendation.

        “For some reason it was never implemented,” Mr. Stanton said.

        The Nature Conservancy covers an immense area, and Boone officials wanted a foundation dedicated only to the county.

        “The Nature Conservancy is a very good organization,” said Lee Otte, director of the Environmental Resource Management Center at Northern Kentucky University.

        “It goes after the cream of the crop, the best of the best that needs preservation.”

        It may not choose the same areas that Boone County officials might.

        “Boone County may look at land in Boone County and say, "This is the best we have and if we don't do something with the best we have it's going to be gone.'”

        The foundation will help development and conservation work together.

        “And there is a need for that,” Mr. Otte said. “Boone County has recognized at this time if they don't do something soon it will be too late.”

        All the surveys should be tabulated by the end of October, and a draft of the parks plan should be ready shortly there after. Public workshops will later be scheduled.


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