July 24, 2014

Elyria
Mostly sunny
63°F
test

Officials seek input on upgrades to Ohio state parks

 

Families cool off on the lake at Findley State Park in Wellington in this 2012 file photo. Ohio announced it plans to invest $88 million in its state parks, but it is seeking public input on where the money should be used. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Families cool off on the lake at Findley State Park in Wellington in this 2012 file photo. Ohio announced it plans to invest $88 million in its state parks, but it is seeking public input on where the money should be used. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

COLUMBUS (AP) — State officials are preparing to invest $88.5 million to upgrade and modernize trails, campgrounds and recreational facilities in Ohio’s state parks over the next two years.

The outlay headed to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources through the state capital budget is more than four times larger than average. Details were announced in Grand Lake St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

Natural resources department director James Zehringer told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the event that the money will be shared among Ohio’s 74 state parks. Ohio’s is one of only seven park systems nationally that charges no entry fees.

He appeared Wednesday with Senate President Keith Faber, a Lima Republican he credited with helping secure the funding along with GOP Gov. John Kasich.

Faber said investing in parks represents sound fiscal management by the state.

“This important investment in Ohio State Parks is about more than providing a great quality of life for our communities, it’s about growing Ohio’s economy and creating jobs,” he said.

Through a website launched Wednesday, parks visitors will help decide which camp sites, cabins, lodges, restrooms, shower houses, trails, roads and wastewater treatment facilities see improvements, said spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle.

She said the money belongs to taxpayers and the state wants to hear their ideas. Many changes may already be planned, but there may be some officials haven’t heard of, she said.

Glen Cobb, chief of Ohio State Parks, said many of Ohio’s state park facilities were built in the 1960s and 1970s, and now are in need of repair or upgrade. No new facilities are planned with the money.

“While it was fine for that era, we certainly need to modernize,” Cobb said. New splash pads for sprinkler-hopping youngsters, expanded camper parking and full-service hookups, and trail and bridge upgrades are all part of the effort, he said.

Cobb said parks funding is typically $15 million to $20 million every two years, recalling a previous high of between $35 million and $40 million.

Zehringer said deteriorating and antiquated facilities prompted U.S. Collegiate Rowing meets to leave East Fork State Park in southwest Ohio’s Little Miami basin. He said the event is now scheduled to return to the state in 2015 due to the investments.

  • Lord Anoobis

    See, I just do not get the appeal of having a camper. What in the hell makes a person want to run home on Friday after work, jump into their camper/RV, and drive down to the camp ground and plug in!!?? What is the appeal? Please explain it to me. I don’t get it. Christ, you can stay at home where it’s air-conditioned and you have indoor plumbing with all the food you need. You don’t need to run a loud generator or deal with bugs. The money you spend on a camper/RV could be spent on many other things.

    • unclewicked

      Well… there is the status symbol of having a camper dripping oil and raw sewage in your front yard 50 weeks out of the year.

    • Pablo Jones

      To get away from the neighbors that B and complain all the time.

      • unclewicked

        …complain about the POS camper in your front yard.

  • stop ur whining part deux

    How about you stop rerouting every call about a park to an office in Columbus. Anyone ever try to book a stay and wind up talking to a pin head in a cubicle that has never been to the park and knows nothing about it?

    Booked a site at Maumee Bay numerous times, always the same thing. I specifically request a site with shade, show up and i am in a field after i was told i would be in a completely shaded site.

    Ohio parks are great, you just have to jump through hoops to book a stay. Heaven forbid you actually can call the park and reserve a stay with someone that ACTUALLY knows what they are talking about.

  • susan hill brown

    There are prople that still like to tent. Not everybody has or uses an RV.

  • golfingirl

    Put a microwave oven, flat screen television with Direct TV and air conditioning at each camp site.

    Oh, and put a motor on those boats and get rid of the oars.

    Maybe then I’ll start camping!