Nov/Dec 2014 Newsletter:

Parks at Risk

By Kathy Hanratty

The Geauga Park District has demanded that NEO Sierra Club clearly designate that these “statements and opinions are no way associated with the views and beliefs of the Geauga Park District.” (Read letter…)

As some of you know, Geauga County citizens are fighting a nightmare come true: an activist judge with an agenda to vastly limit the mission of conservation in our public park system. When you look at Judge Timothy Grendell’s supporters it becomes apparent that this is, or will be soon, a statewide issue. Ohio Revised Code (ORC 1545) gives the County Probate Court Judge the power to appoint park district board members and oversee donations to park districts. (Judicial elections are more important than you may realize!)

The Geauga Park District Board (all appointed within the last 10 months by Judge Grendell) has changed the Statement of Purpose of the Geauga Co. Park District. With no oversight, they elevated recreation to the same level as conservation in the parks.

In a move to pacify citizens (who showed up in force at two Park Board meetings and presented a petition with nearly 2,500 signatures demanding revocation of the new bylaws) the board grudgingly removed a list of “Recreational Activities” which had included ATV use, Logging, and Oil and Gas Drilling. In place of that list, they have added a statement that says the board can at any time add any activity they please as long as the activity is legal. This is no improvement at all.

This group orchestrated the suspension of a park levy that had been overwhelmingly passed and renewed by voters. That, along with the removal of the Development Director position, shows a clear move toward defunding the park district.

We are asking all of those interested in conservation in Ohio to help us show clear support for the conservation, preservation, and protection of our parks and natural areas. Here are some things you can you do as an individual:

  • Check out our website: www.protectgeaugaparks.us
  • Use the information on the website to write letters to newspapers.
  • Contact elected State Representatives and Senators asking them to help change ORC 1545 to make Park District Boards more accountable to the people.
  • Make a donation to “Protect Geauga Parks” at www.gofundme.com/f5xgy8

Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/ProtectGeaugaParks/

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