We would like to offer another view about the Licking Parks District and rejection of the May levy. Although we live a few thousand feet from the Licking County line, we have used Licking Parks for many years and have supported them with our time and money. We have hiked, walked our dog, and ridden our horses on miles of amazingly scenic trails, attended functions in outdoor shelters and indoor facilities. We see folks fishing, flying kites, playing softball, golfing with Frisbees, biking from Johnstown to Newark, attending family reunions, children’s events, educational offerings, horse shows, and holiday activities.
What other central Ohio park system offers so much variety, and as cost effectively? We have marveled at how the district has managed to continue operating with deep successive budget cuts. Unfortunately that could be quickly coming to an end.
After the severe ice storm several years ago, the parks were overwhelmed with downed trees. Most trails were unusable. Darrell Hensley, an earlier letter writer, personally persuaded us and many other park users to bring chainsaws and help out at Infirmary Mound Park. We observed Darrell, 20-30 years senior to the average volunteer, work harder than anyone we have seen. We were all exhausted, but Darrell moved on to clear other parks almost single handedly. Since then we have worked with Darrell and other volunteers clearing and cutting trails and building bridges. Both as a volunteer and contractor, he helped motivate and build camaraderie with his energy and enthusiasm. He often used his own tractor and took visitors for free tours with the wagon and team of draft horses he had at the time.
Licking County has wisely banked open space and built up a wonderful park system, adding much to the quality of life and property values in the area. Now the parks may be in danger of going downhill or even closing. Large population bases in the county like Pataskala and Johnstown are asked to vote for the county’s park levees but are largely unaware of the park system and what it has to offer.
As Mr. Hensley was suggesting, perhaps increased representation could provide spokespersons in distant but large population bases in the County, building park attendance and voter base. Whatever the answers, we need to pull together and treat all the players with respect, from lowliest employee or volunteer to highest official. Licking County has an amazing park system. Let us get the word out, mend fences, and work together so we don’t lose everything that has been invested in these great parks.
Ken & Lois Ferell