Tuesday, June 24, 2003

West Chester committee urges recreation levy



By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - A township citizen park committee will recommend today that trustees place a parks and recreation levy on the fall ballot, based on what they say are favorable results from a recent phone survey and public meeting.

The 1.95-mill levy would be a continuing one for this community that's rapidly running out of green space.

Two West Chester Township trustees said Friday they would vote to put it on the ballot.

The issue will be discussed at today's 7 p.m. trustees meeting at 9100 Centre Pointe Drive.

"It looks favorable," Trustee Dave Tacosik said. "The community has waited long enough."

"Voters have a right to make a decision on this," Trustee Catherine Stoker added.

Trustee Jose Alvarez, however, isn't so sure. Trustees only put items they feel are "very important" on ballots, he said,

The deadline with the Butler County Board of Elections to place issues on the November ballot is Aug. 21.

The levy would cost the owner of a $200,000 home in West Chester an additional $119 a year in taxes, according to the Butler County Auditor's Office.

With several grants and private contributions, West Chester has been able to acquire property and move ahead on projects such as ball fields at Beckett Park, Iams Wiggly Field dog park and Daisaku Tree Grove at the Voice of America Park.

"The fact is we've been doing pretty good for the past four or five years and developed our park system with great creativity and slowly put things together," Alvarez said. "I'm pretty impressed by the abilities of our (staff) to do the impossible ... so do I have a real reason to do it faster and sooner rather than the pace we have been doing it?"

Last year, trustees appointed the 12-member park committee to recommend whether a tax increase should be placed on the ballot to help fund $88 million in improvements. They include development of parks, a historic schoolhouse, the yet-to-be built community center and a system of greenways and bike trails connecting it all.

The park board found that many residents think West Chester is in a race to save its green space. They also are impatient for improved soccer and baseball fields.

"It is evident ... that the West Chester community is waiting for something to happen," reads the park committee's executive summary. "Local residents want the township's park plan to become reality and they want it to happen within five years as opposed to 10 years.

"The only way to make this happen is to place a levy for park acquisition, development, operation and maintenance before the local electorate."

However, many of the people surveyed also complained about too much money being spent by government officials, about traffic congestion and about runaway development.

In a recent e-mail to trustees, resident Keith Davis wrote that he is appalled at the traffic congestion on Tylersville Road, which has become one of the most vehicle-clogged arteries in the Tristate.

"It was more like a scene from New York City than West Chester, Ohio," Davis wrote. "I have heard from other (township) residents to avoid Tylersville Road and their concerns are certainly justified."

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E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com




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