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Park money welcome, and it’s long overdue

I know this sounds ungrateful, but being the blunt person that I am, I am going to say it anyway. To the Ohio Legislature and the governor’s office: what took you so long?

The recent announcement that Ohio State Parks will receive some $88.6 million for capital improvements is long overdue. And it might be a drop in the bucket when you consider there are 74 state parks over which to spread the money. That’s only about $1.2 million per park.

Ohio State Parks, once voted the best state park system in the United States, has been the poor stepchild of the legislature for far too long. Instead of treasuring the parks as the jewel they once were, the legislature has not only neglected them, but has severely cut budgets and staff on a regular basis through the years. And all the while the infrastructure has aged and deteriorated.

It had gotten so bad that to replace worn out park-owned vehicles Ohio was buying trucks and cars from other states that had been driven by their park employees until they were deemed too old with very high mileage. And you might notice some areas of your favorite parks no longer have trash barrels – that’s because there is not enough money to hire someone to empty them.

Those are just a couple of examples showing how bad the situation is … not even mentioning crumbled buildings and roads, etc.

Some of the projects outlined by state officials to be completed at the parks are solid projects that will help the parks and attract visitors. It’s a good start, but it will take much more than $88.6 million to really help the parks recover from the many years of legislative neglect.

Lawmakers shouldn’t feel their work is done when it comes to state parks. They should be putting together the next package to benefit parks and another after that. I am sure every lawmaker realizes it is the people’s money to be spent on the people.

Your opinion sought: Ohio residents have been asked to participate in the planning of projects to improve individual state parks. If you have an idea how some of that $88.6 million could be spent, take a quick survey at parks.ohiodnr.gov/improvements.

New boss: Gary Obermiller, chief of the ODNR Division of Watercraft, will become deputy director over Ohio State Parks and Watercraft. He will also serve as chief of Ohio State Parks. Glen Cobb, ODNR deputy director and chief of Ohio State Parks and formerly the park manager at Grand Lake St. Marys, is retiring at the end of June.