Forrest preserve to get new drive, parking lot

Seneca County Park District’s Forrest Nature Preserve is to get a new drive and parking lot in the new section of Forrest Nature Preserve.

The board Wednesday passed a resolution requesting use of grant funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation Roadwork Fund for the project.

Board member Jim Nordholt said the parking lot has been excavated and, according to his calculations, 11,000 cubic feet of area is to be stoned at an estimated cost of $10,000-$12,000.

The district has a total of about $45,000 in ODOT funds available to use for roads and parking lots.

Board members also approved a proposal as submitted by board member Bill McAllister and the Endowment Advisory Committee setting up an endowment campaign to launch in December.

The “quiet campaign” is to ask contributors to donate funds toward an endowment fund recently started by the board. Information is to go out in the district’s December newsletter.

“It’s a very quiet, subtle kind of approach,” McAllister said. “We want to plant the seed so they know we have an endowment fund.”

The goal is $100,000 by May 2015, and the fund contains $8,400.

Nordholt, who is handling the district’s finances, said funds are “getting tight” and reviewed the remainder available. The district will have no more income until rents for farmland are due in November.

“We have to watch expenses,” he said. “If somebody is going to spend some money, I would appreciate if you would let me know so I can tell you if we have money to spend.”

At the Friends of the Seneca County Park District meeting prior to the board meeting, members agree to pay $3,000 for dike repairs at Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve’s Ogierd Lake, plus $1,000 for tile.

A recent expense of $3,000 was used to add a restroom at the nature center at Garlo preserve for use by a growing Out & About Preschool.

Preschool administrator and head teacher Linda Rose said Bloomville’s only other preschool closed recently. She said she received 12 phone calls and she put children on the waiting list.

The preschool already had been planning to expand, and Rose said she and her assistant can handle 24 children and meet state standards for ratio of teachers to students.

Depending on several factors, she said it’s possible enrollment could be increased to 30 children, but another teacher then would be required. There are 33 children enrolled or on the waiting list for this school year, and 31 next year. Future years already have 15-20 children awaiting enrollment.

To help expand space, board chairman Carl Miller said he and other volunteers plan to remove the overhead door in the part of the nature center originally intended for use as a maintenance shop. A wall with windows and insulation is to be added.

In her role as program director, Rose said participation in the three youth camps increased this year and 400 brochures were distributed at the Seneca County Fair.

McAllister reported he and board member Roland Zimmerman visited Crawford Park District as a step toward implementing the park district’s new strategic plan.

“We picked their brain about operations and their history and how they got to the point where they’re at,” he said.

He said they chose Crawford because the size and history is similar to Seneca County’s district.

“They had two levies fail and recently got one passed,” McAllister said.

Crawford has a full-time director, two full-time and a half-time naturalists and a full-time receptionist who handles marketing and finances.

“I think it was time well spent,” he said.

Board member Roy Zinn said he is working on creating a list of organizations and agencies that previously collaborated with the park district on projects, and a list of potential future partners.

In other business:

Nordholt recommended the board consider buying a new computer at cost of $500-$800 because the current computer uses Windows XP, which is being phased out.

Zinn reported a white oak tree that was almost 300 years old at Steyer Nature Preserve has died. He suggested the tree be allowed to remain standing as wildlife habitat. He also said a burr oak tree of almost the same age also is dying.

The board learned surveillance cameras are in place and operating at Garlo preserve.

A natural play area has been added to Mercy Community Nature Preserve.

The board’s Aug. 26 meeting was canceled.

The board’s next meeting is at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 and the location is moved for one month to the nature center at Garlo preserve.