Friday, June 23, 2000

County parks want your views

Input sought in planning for future

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPRINGFIELD TWP. — Residents of Hamilton County are being asked to complete a survey that will help guide the Hamilton County Park District in planning for the future.

        The survey is being published with the July-August edition of the park district's magazine, Evergreen, and is available through the Sunday, edition of the Enquirer and by mail.

        “As a tax-supported public agency, the Hamilton County Park District has a tradition of being responsive to citizen requests and suggestions that are compatible with our mission and fiscal capabilities,” said Jon Brady, park district director.

        It is the first time the park district has attempted an extensive, county-wide survey through its magazine. The magazine and survey will be mailed to anyone on request by calling the park district at 521-PARK.

        The park district has en couraged feedback over the years through comment cards located at the park district's visitor centers, and it is included on a regular basis in the University of Cincinnati's Greater Cincinnati polling.

        “At this point we are looking at our future and what we should be doing,” said Jim Rahtz, communications director for the park district. “We decided to take it a step further and give the opportunity for everyone out in the community to give us their opinion, what they think our priorities should be. Now exactly what we're going to do with this infor mation, we really don't know until we see what that information is.”

        The 14-question survey asks residents how often they use the parks, how important the parks are, and to rate the importance of acquiring parkland, providing outdoor recreation, restoring natural habitat and increasing nature education opportunities.

        This year is the 70th anniversary of the park district. There are 16 parks and 13,000 acres in the park system. In the past 10 years, the park district has added more than 2,500 acres of parkland, converted more than 130 acres of farmland into wetland habitat, dredged and restored Winton Woods Lake. It has added new visitors centers at Winton Woods, Miami Whitewater Forest, Woodland Mound and Sharon Woods and developed new naturalist programs.

        The survey can be mailed back to the park district at no cost. It is printed on the back of a postage-paid card.

        “We hope the public looks at the survey, fills it out and sends it in,” said Mr. Rahtz. “We're certainly hoping for a lot of public input. It helps drive us as to ... the next century.”


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