Cameras to combat park vandalism

Seneca County Park District board authorized funds to buy three trail cameras and to pay expenses related to the strategic planning process now under way.

The trail camera purchase was prompted by vandalism at the cabin at Steyer Nature Preserve, but board member Carl Miller said the cameras could be moved around frequently to deter vandalism, count the number of people who use a park or similar uses.

He is to buy infrared cameras that can take pictures at night. They are to include security systems to prevent theft.

The $500 approved for the strategic planning process is to pay for mailings and postage to key community leaders as well as an online survey which is to be available to the general public.

Board member Jim Nordholt said the online survey will be designed to find out if people know about the county parks, if they’re interested in learning about them and what they do when they visit county parks.

Board member Bill McAllister said the committee has met three times and is developing questions designed to find out the needs of county people related to parks and natural areas.

“After that, we’ll know what the opportunities are based on those needs,” he said. “We’re hoping the data-gathering process starts in August.”

He said the committee hopes to have a plan in place by the end of the year and ready to be implemented in 2014.

“I’m really optimistic about the process and what we’re coming up with at the end,” he said.

The board learned it will receive a $28,492 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation for this biennium. Added to the money carried over from the previous biennium, the park district has more than $45,000 to spend in next two years for roads, parking lots and other vehicle-related projects.

Director Pat Obringer reported damage to trees and high water at several parks after last week’s storm. He said trees were down at Garlo and Steyer preserves and shingles were damaged at West Lodi Church and the cabins at Garlo preserve. Water also covered some trails at Steyer, and the canoe launch was covered in a foot of mud.

Program Director Linda Rose said a canoe float and several programs were canceled, but programs are back on track.

Obringer said a few boards of siding were blown off the church also, and he is awaiting dry weather to schedule the planned painting of the church.

Also related to Bowen preserve, the board reviewed a resolution but did not take action regarding a plan to trade land with a neighbor of the park.

The park district has been planning to trade a parcel of land next to the church for a parcel behind the church. The switch would connect the church property to the park instead of being separated by a strip of land.

However, board members did not approve the resolution because they asked the survey of one corner of the property be reviewed.

Nordholt, the attorney who handles the board’s legal matters, said the park district must advertise the “sale” and accept sealed bids for the trade.

At Clinton Nature Preserve, Obringer said he has received reports of people driving in areas where no vehicles are allowed. He said the “no motorized vehicles” sign is gone.

He said there is an erosion problem at the park caused by excessive rain that he plans to discuss with Clinton Township trustees.

In other business, the board:

Discussed the qualifications of a new volunteer who is working in the office to answer telephones and do other office work.

Agreed to move $300 from the “other” account to a travel account with the Preschool Fund.

Discussed language to use in promotional materials concerning when parks are county parks and when they are cooperative parks.

Directed Obringer to meet with Bloom Fire Department about placing GPSed markers along equestrian and other trails at Garlo preserve in case of accident or illness for emergency personnel.

At its meeting prior to the board meeting, the Friends of the Seneca County Park District:

Purchased a used pickup truck for $800 to be donated to the park district.

Authorized up to $10,000 to purchase a lawnmower for the park district after a committee makes a recommendation.

Learned the new website is online at www.senecacountyparks.


The board’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Aug. 14, preceded by a Friends meeting at 6 p.m.