Bellefontaine Parks and Recreation District Superintendent Kris Myers, left, and others react to the news Tuesday evening that the parks’ proposed income tax levy did not meet voter approval during a gathering a Brewfontaine, 211 S. Main St. (EXAMINER PHOTO | Mandy Loehr)
The Bellefontaine Parks and Recreation District was not able to secure additional funding in the form of a city income tax levy, which failed to meet voter approval during Tuesday’s general election.
The issue that would have provided both operating funds and capital funds for the parks through an income tax increase of 0.267 percent failed 1,705 votes to 1,811 votes, according to unofficial totals.
However, the takeaway Tuesday night for parks leaders and levy campaign members was a grateful attitude for what the campaign and master plan for the parks was able to accomplish and the way that it was able to unite a number of community members for a cause dedicated to creating new recreational opportunities for future generations.
“The campaign was amazing and the support that we felt throughout the last several months was incredible,” Parks Superintendent Kris Myers said. “People stepped up to help us and lend their voices and support, and they had the utmost servant hearts.
“I’m very humbled by all of the votes that we did receive and the many people who came out throughout the community to offer their support.”
Parks levy committee chair Justin Dinovo said he enjoyed hearing about the many reasons why area residents came alongside this cause.
“It was so neat hearing so many people’s testimonials about what the parks means to them and their family and how they want their kids and grandkids to have those special opportunities. We hope to build on that momentum and to keep it going.”
Myers said despite the loss of the levy, community members don’t need to worry about their local parks.
“We’re not going anywhere. Our facilities and equipment are aging, but we’re going to do the best with the funding we have and see what the future holds. We’re going to regroup and reassess our priorities.”
Levy funding would have been divided initially by approximately 40 percent for operating expenses and 60 percent for capital projects.
With the levy funding, the parks department had hoped to carry out their Master Plan, which is based upon recommendations for needed city park improvements and the replacement of aging infrastructure as described by community members in surveys completed in the fall of 2022. The plan provides the priorities for the 17 parks managed by the department, along with Myeerah Nature Preserve.
Larger scale projects included in the Master Plan include the replacement of Hoffman Pool, which has reached its limits and deterioration increases yearly.
The Master Plan detailed amenities for the new aquatic center estimated at $8.5 to $10 million, such as a zero-depth pool, kiddie area, lazy river, diving boards, slides and a spray pad.
The survey also found that the city’s historic Harmon Field Park is greatly underutilized and is located in a large residential area with great potential. A $1.3 to $1.5 million project was planned at this park with levy funding to add new features, such as a spray pad and filtration system, new playground equipment and surfacing, along with basketball court improvements and adding restrooms.