Thursday, October 12, 2000

Levy suggested for parks

Funds would buy, develop available land

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A councilman floated a trial balloon this week regarding a possible tax levy to buy and develop parkland — and it's still aloft.

        Three council members said Wednesday they like Mark Flick's suggestion Tuesday for a 2-mill levy to let voters decide if they want to put more of their money into city parks. The other three reserved judgment.

"Plenty of land'
        Such a levy would raise $750,000 annually, Mr. Flick said, for a term of perhaps five years. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $61 a year, according to the Warren County Auditor's Office.

        “While there's plenty of land to be developed, there's no money to develop it,” Mr. Flick said.

Public dissatisfaction
        Residents are less satisfied with recreation facilities and programs than most other city services, according to a recent survey. The only service that scored lower than its 70 percent satisfaction rating was zoning, at 52 percent. The survey of 500 registered voters, taken earlier this year, had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

        The city has two funds totaling $1.16 million earmarked for parks. Some of the money — which comes from fees on residential and business construction — can be used only to buy parkland.

        Bike trails and a skate park are among Mr. Flick's ideas. Other potential spending includes buying and fixing up the former Erb Lumber building — long eyed as a possible small convention center/recreation building — and renovating the “Heri tage Square” block downtown, he said. The block, bound by Cherry, Mechanic, Main and Mulberry streets, includes a city-owned house at 5-7 Cherry St.

Support for ideas
        Council members Ben Cole, Jane Davenport and Ron Pandorf said they tentatively support putting a levy on the ballot.

        “Any time you leave an issue up to the voters, I think it's a wise thing to do,” Mr. Cole said.

        Mayor James Mills and council members Amy Brewer and James Reinhard said they are withholding judgment.

        “Building a walking trail throughout town is something we've been talking about for years, and I think it's a great idea,” Mr. Reinhard said. “I don't know that we need a levy to do that.”


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