ELYRIA — Voting has begun in the fourth annual “America is Your Park” contest that will again award grants of up to $100,000 to help restore, rebuild or enhance activity areas in local, state or national parks.
Cascade Park supporters and fans have demonstrated their affection for the park the past few years by trying to generate enough online votes to win one of a number of recreational grants that top out at $100,000.
Dan Cunningham, a local supporter of previous online voting for Cascade Park, expressed the hope that the Lorain County Metro Parks would back the effort since the county park district recently reached terms with the city on a contract to operate Cascade under a joint agreement.
“They have these huge mailings and a lot more resources than we do as individuals doing this at the grassroots level,” Cunningham said of the park’s supporters who don’t really operate as a unified organization.
Jim Ziemnik, director of the county Metro Parks, said he was not aware of the online voting contest but said the park district is happy to back the effort if it can.
“We are all about anything that can garner additional funding and interest,” Ziemnik said, noting no one had contacted the park district about the online contest.
Still, Ziemnik said the park system could wind up “getting real active” by posting information about the contest on its website, via Facebook, Twitter and other means.
“If anyone wants our help, we certainly welcome that opportunity,” Ziemnik said.
The Metro Parks and Elyria came to terms on a 50-year contract in March that will see Cascade Park re-developed and operated by the county park system starting in 2015.
“We’re taking the lead on it per the contract, but we are in this together,” Ziemnik said. “The park is good for both the city and county.”
Cunningham said he was amazed at how well Cascade Park did in past voting considering it was up against parks in bigger cities, or popular state and national parks drawing votes from an entire state or across the country.
“It made me believe we could really do this if we got behind it early enough,” Cunningham said.
In 2011 Cascade Park ranked 16th nationally with more than 72,000 votes a week before the deadline.
In 2012, Cascade was again in the running and fared better, tallying more than 90,000 votes to rank 8th nationwide at one point.
“We stayed up there for awhile but then the really big state parks eclipsed everyone else,” Cunningham said.
This year’s online voting began Thursday and runs until midnight July 15, with winners to be announced in early August, according to Jennifer Richmond, public affairs and communications director for Coca Cola North American Group based in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash.
Voting in this year’s contest has undergone a few changes to put a greater emphasis on increased physical activity, according to Richmond.
People who log at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day using MapMyFitness can earn up to 10 votes a day, with the number of votes that can be earned determined by specific physical activities.
Votes also can be made daily online at Coke.com/Parks via smartphone or computer, or by “checking in” at a park by downloading the foursquare app for five votes per day.
Votes will be doubled June 21, the first day of summer, and the last weekend of voting, July 13 and 14.
The three parks getting the most votes by the July 15 deadline will be awarded grants of $100,000, $50,000 and $25,000, respectively.
A fourth grant for $15,000 will go to a park placing among the top 25 nationally.
The contest had totaled more than 39,600 votes by Monday evening, with Veterans Memorial Park in tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla., in first place with 7,902 votes.
America is Your Park
- Votes can be made daily online at Coke.com/Parks via smartphone or computer, or by “checking in” at a park by downloading the Foursquare app for five votes per day.
- People who log at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day using MapMyFitness can earn up to 10 votes a day, with the number of votes that can be earned determined by specific physical activities.
- Votes will be doubled June 21, the first day of summer, and the last weekend of voting, July 13 and 14.
- Voting runs through July 15.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.