2013-01-12 / Editorials & Letters

Guest column: Licking Park District 2012 Summary, Expectations for 2013

By Steve Holloway, Chairperson, Licking Park District Board of Commissioners

Your generosity this past Spring has given your Licking Park District new life and a secure future. So get ready, there are some exciting things on the way that will effect almost every citizen of Licking County in a very positive way.

Our renewed mission is to acquire, manage, preserve, and conserve natural areas within Licking County while protecting wildlife and local history in a manner that enriches our communities and provides access to diverse parks, educational opportunities, and health and wellness activities.

First I’d like to share some of what we accomplished in 2012. We were extremely busy this past year with events, long needed maintenance and safety projects, and forming new partnerships. Here’s a list of some of those most notable...

2012 Events

• Hosted the 1st Johnstown Invitational cross-country meet

• Hosted five horse shows, two paces, and a charitable poker run

• Held the first annual “Moonlighting at the Park”; an evening event that included an owl walk; fishing, folk music, star gazing through telescopes, a civil war encampment, trail rides, and plenty of food

• Hosted a Medieval Living History weekend

• Hosted the “Harvest Moon Rendezvous”, a pre-1840’s muzzleloader living history weekend

• Hosted a Civil War museum and encampment weekend

Bike Path

We opened and dedicated a new 4 mile extension of our bike path. The new Buckeye Scenic Trail runs from Heath to Lakewood High School on Route 40.

New Partnerships

We’ve partnered with the Central Ohio Astronomical Society who conducts evening events at Taft Reserve open to the public to view the stars and planets

Paws2Play is heading up our new dog park, scheduled to open later in 2013. It will be a ‘”best in class” dog park that will include an agility course

We have agreed to have the Lobdell Mountain Bike Club design and construct a mountain bike course at Lobdell Reserve located in Alexandria. Construction will begin this winter

The Licking County Mustangs are building a new baseball complex at our Fritz Drumm Park in Alexandria with the hope of having the first game ball thrown in the Spring of 2013

We partnered with City of Newark and Newark Police to allow bow hunting at Riverside Park

Maintenance and Safety

• With help from ODOT, we graveled most of our parking lots

• Fixed bridges and handrails along our bike paths

• Installed gates and fences

• Repaired shelter houses at Infirmary Park

What’s coming in 2013

2013 is expected to be an very busy one with the number one priority, to hire a new Park Director . This person will oversee our entire park and bike path system, revive popular programs such as the Easter Egg Hunt and Halloween Tour, and implement our 5 year strategic plan. We hope to have this accomplished by first quarter.

In addition to returning events, here’s more to look forward to...

• A new Best in Class dog park, playground equipment, and improvements to our five acre public fishing lake at Infirmary Mound Park on Ohio 37 outside of Granville

• Expansion of Ohio Nature Education at Taft Reserve - Kraner Nature Center located at 10383 Fairview Road where live animals such as owls and flyingsquirrels can be seen, along with many new educational programs

• Construction of a new shelter house, a mountain bike course, and improvements to the Frisbee Golf Course at Lobdell Reserve in Alexandria

• Partnering with ODNR and the Evans Foundation, we will make a significant contribution in funding and assistance towards the repaving of the 4.8 mile Blackhand Gorge Bike Path

• Revival of Civil War re-enactments and a more permanent Civil War Era educational area at Infirmary Mound Park

• More repair to the bike path pavement and bridges

• More nature educational programs

All successful communities are built on the fulfillment of three basic needs... “Education, Work, and Play”. Licking county has long been known for a strong educational system and for job creation. With the passing of our Park, Paths, and Trails levy we now have the resources to help fulfill Licking County’s need for “Play” by allowing families and individuals access to outdoor and educational activities in the form of fishing, picnicking, bicycling, walking/jogging/hiking, horseback riding, Frisbee golf, bird watching, canoeing, cross country skiing, sledding, hunting, mountain biking, nature tours, and many other recreational activities.

Please come visit us and enjoy the 1600+ acres and over 58 miles of paths and trails your Park District has to offer and watch for upcoming events.

For more information visit our website - www.lickingparkdistrict.com

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