The Stark County Farm Bureau and its 2,562 members are opposing issue 23 this November 5. The Stark County Farm Bureau has a long history of helping to protect its members rights and helping its members when they are asked. Stark Parks is asking for an increase that will increase their revenue by 40%. Our concerns are that they do not have a good plan in place that allows them to maintain and care for their existing parks and trails. We have heard from our members that they are concerned that Stark Parks doesn’t do enough with what they already have and increasing our taxes without a plan doesn’t seem like a good use of our tax dollars.
There is cause for concern with some of our landowners in the county because Stark Parks has published its master plan that includes land that is not and will not be owned by Stark Parks. They say on their website that they have never used eminent domain and will not but an article published on Oct. 31, 2019 they indicated they have used it one time. We would agree that that was one time too many. A park district is an non-elected body that has the power tool of eminent domain. We have seen this tool used in other counties throughout Ohio. This tool was meant for projects like roads, bridges and utilities. Not for recreational use.
Bob Fonte(director) of Stark Parks testified in Columbus that he opposes H.B. 288 which would take away the use of eminent domain from non-elected officials and we have to ask ourselves why he would be opposed to that. They have stated they have never used it so what is the concern with that power going away? That is because it will be used as a tactic in negotiation with landowners. That is not the intended use of that power and it should not be used to force people into decisions that they don’t want to make.
According to their website they would like to add 30-40 more miles of trails throughout the county at a cost of $5,300 per mile of trail. We already have 120 miles of trail and over 8,000 acres of land that is owned by Stark Parks. Putting these trails in will give access to the public to wander onto other people’s property and take away the feeling of safety and security of the landowners property. It will also create a larger burden on the county to maintain more trails and land.
Let’s tell Stark Parks to come up with a better plan that will take in the needs and wants of the county and not just make assumptions that they should continue on because a handful of people think so. Vote NO on issue 23 and support the landowners of the county and let the park district know they can do better.