BLANCHESTER — Taylor Stuckert presented the idea of a Joint Recreation District encompassing the county’s parks and he took questions from Blanchester officials at the village’s council meeting Thursday evening.
Blanchester’s village council has not agreed to join such a district, and Stuckert, the executive director for the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission, stressed that the joint district — combining park districts across Clinton County into one — is just an idea to explore a “model in which there might be an opportunity to create better-funded parks and better park facilities in the whole county.”
Stuckert told the Wilmington News Journal that each park district in the county would have to volunteer to be part of the joint district for it to work in those areas. Alternatively, he said, they could continue to maintain their own park district.
“We have such a wide range of situations of village parks,” Stuckert said. “In Blanchester, you have financial resources that go into village parks. You have a board, somebody who manages those parks.”
Other villages, Stuckert said, may not have some or all of those things.
Blanchester Parks and Recreation Board chair Paul Jackson asked Stuckert a series of questions.
If the joint district were created, he wanted to know what would happen to individual park boards, if the new board’s members would be paid, what would happen to the old park district’s equipment and property, and how the survey was advertised, adding that he hadn’t heard about it until a week ago.
“These are things that we’re going to want answer to, you guys are going to want answers to, and the community’s going to want answers to,” Jackson said.
Stuckert said he doubted a park board’s members would be paid. He also said a joint district could see how other joint districts handled property and equipment, and stated the survey was advertised in a number of ways, including email lists. But, for the most part, he said, it’s too early to answer most of the questions.
“It’s just a concept,” Stuckert said. “All these questions and this feedback is critical to creating a quality output. If we want something that’s going to be successful, we have to have it.”
Jackson disagreed with Stuckert about whether the survey, which polled about 1 percent of each community, is thorough enough.
Stuckert said a survey is more about collecting a representative, random sample of a community. Jackson implied the response wasn’t enough to get an accurate feeling for the community.
Blanchester council member Ricky Roush said Blanchester’s parks employ a full-time person to maintain the parks and said he would be concerned about upkeep and quality if a joint district was formed.
“We have four baseball diamonds, which are great, but they need a lot of improvement,” Roush said. “We have literally no place for the soccer people to play. … Just because we’re over the quota (of number of active acres recommended, based on national parks standards) doesn’t mean we have adequate facilities.”
“I would only want something like this if every community park system would be improved from it, not just increasing facilities but also improving quality,” Stuckert said. “If it even created the remote chance that it would harm a community or set them back, I would not even consider it.”
Stuckert and Blanchester Mayor John Carman encouraged those with more questions to call Stuckert. CCRPC can be contacted at 937-382-3582 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A fact sheet that Stuckert gave council members can be found in the online version of this story on the WNJ’s website at www.wnewsj.com.
Also in Council:
• Council member Cindy Sutton reminded council other council members to give her two names of people that could serve on a committee to solicit input about the proposed income tax levy. She has already received four names.
• Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt informed council that vehicle maintenance costs are increasing and gave council a $200 check from the American Legion to pay for part of the cost of T-shirts that were made for the police department. He also said there was money left over from a previous Clinton County Skatepark Association donation that could cover the rest of the cost. He told council that one of his officers took a job as a probation officer, so he began advertising to replace that officer.
• Street Commissioner Wayne Clifton asked council to lease, free of charge, a machine to work on sealing cracks. Clifton said the company leases the machines for free but requires the village to buy material from it. Clifton said their material was cheaper than what the village currently buys. Council approved Clifton to look into purchasing more than 2,000 pounds and getting the machine.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.