Give Us The Metroparks We Deserve
We had the most wonderful time doing our research and preparing to write this endorsement for the Cleveland Metroparks levy. Issue 80 is a 10-year, 2.7 mill levy that will add $5 a month to the tax bill of an owner of a $100,000 home in Cuyahoga County. It’s a hefty 50% increase that will help finance more than $100 million of of improvements over the next 10 years, including $28 million dedicated to the lakefront parks like Edgewater, Gordon and Euclid Beach, along with numerous marinas and yacht clubs.
Of course, to do our job and carefully analyze and test all the aspects of the Cleveland Metroparks, we planned to do everything from kayaking on the Rocky River to teeing off on every one of their 7 golf courses, to hiking all 85 miles of all purpose trails and cruising all 100 miles of parkway.
Alas, we didn’t visit all 22,000 acres in 18 different reservations. We didn’t participate in all the dozens of organized activities taking place everyday across the region. We didn’t even visit the zoo, though over a million people a year do.
But we did have fun trying standup paddleboarding at Hinckley Lake. It was a blast, and very affordable. We could have also rented a rowboat, an electric motor boat, a canoe, a kayak, a pontoon boat or a paddle boat. There’s always next time.
We did bike the parkway, and noticed the new bike sharrows and signage along the road indicating to motorists that bikes will be sharing the road. And guess what. Motorists driving the Metroparks parkway are starting to get the message and yielding to bikers. That culture is changing thanks to efforts by the Metroparks.
We did hang out at the Emerald Necklace Marina and marveled at the fresh water that graces our region, and the access that this marina and the lakefront parks and waterways will offer to millions of area residents.
We did ride the year-old Royalview mountain bike trail in Mill Stream Run in Strongsville and came away totally impressed with the quality of the trails the Metroparks have built in cooperation with area groups like the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association and experts like Ray Petro of Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park.
We’ve witnessed their own Metroparks police force with their subtle but firm presence, especially at the lakefront parks they have recently taken over from the State of Ohio, where security is more of a priority than fancy new amenities. As it should be.
Certainly we raised a few issues when the Cool Cleveland Editorial Board met with Metroparks officials: see our unedited video below for details. We have concerns with the legal structure that gives the Cuyahoga County Probate Judge the power to appoint the 3-person commission that oversees the Metroparks. However, the structure has worked well, and the Metroparks have become a national model for responsible stewardship of public lands.
As the Metroparks approaches its 100th birthday in 2017, it also takes on a huge new responsibility managing a major chunk of Northeast Ohio’s lakefront. A weaker organization would be challenged to meet these obligations. But based on their track record, our Metroparks are fully capable of bringing the park system into their second millennium and fully into the 21st century.
We should stand behind them and give them the resources they need to give us the Metroparks we deserve.
Cool Cleveland recommends you vote YES on Issue 80.
The Cuyahoga Board of Elections isn’t sending out applications to vote by mail this year. To request a mail-in ballot, go to http://boe.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/vote-by-mail.aspx.