Park district backs comprehensive plan

Seneca County Park District board approved participation in the Seneca County comprehensive plan at cost of up to $19,000 at a Tuesday meeting.

The countywide plan, spearheaded by Seneca Regional Planning Commission, is a contract with CT Consulting, of Mentor, to create a 20-year plan for the county and the cities of Tiffin and Fostoria, which includes the parks and other entities.

At the meeting, SRPC Executive Director Charlene Watkins said she hopes to complete the contract with CT Consultants by the end of March. Estimated total cost for the plan is about $120,000.

Board member Bill McAllister, chairman of the district’s Strategic Planning Committee, said committee members voted unanimously to recommend the consultant’s services include such services as creating master plans for each park.

He said CT discounted the total cost of $20,500 to $19,000 if the board agreed to all itemized components.

Executive Director Sarah Betts said plans are needed for three or four parks, but the other parks have deed restrictions that limit how they can be used.

“Even though we’re piggybacking on their plan, the final decision on goals and action steps are going to be ours,” McAllister said.

He said he checked references from five other county park district that work with CT Consulting.

“All five of them spoke very highly of CT Consulting,” he said. “Some of the them have been working with CT Consulting for 20 years.”

After discussion regarding the cost, the board approved up to $19,000 for the project with the understanding further negotiations might reduce the price.

In other action, the board approved changes to its bylaws. Betts said updates relate to the board working with a staff and incorporate changes needed to remain current with state statutes.

The board passed a resolution to request a waiver from the Seneca County Budget Commission regarding a requirement for an annual tax budget each July. Board member Jim Nordholt said the tax budget has uses under other conditions when money is divided among several entities, but they don’t apply to the park district.

During her programs report, Park Program Director Linda Rose said she’s planning five weeks of summer nature camps for various age groups. A new camp is planned at Fruth Outdoor Center, 10130 W. SR 18, Fostoria, a partnership with Fostoria’s Geary Family YMCA.

In her director’s report, Betts said orientation and training of two new employees — Troy Gibson and Shelly Smola — has taken much of her time in February and March.

She said she attended the third meeting of the Sandusky River Access Committee headed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“The idea is to see into the future a little bit when they take out the (Ballville Dam) in Fremont,” she said.

When fish, mainly walleye, begin to move upstream for spring spawning, she said the committee wants to be prepared. Members are talking about such issues as public parking and fish cleaning stations for anglers as well as more canoe and kayak access to the river in Seneca County.

Having a plan in place might make it easier to get grants to help fund projects, she said. And a plan aids in economic development for everyone from people who use the river to restaurants and other businesses.

Board member Carl Miller said he’s a member of the Sandusky River Council through ODNR.

“There’s going to be changes to the river that we haven’t seen here before,” he said. Although no change to river depth is expected, he said an influx of kayakers is expected, and there is a canoe trip through the location of Ballville Dam after the removal is completed this fall.

Also Tuesday, the board planned a staff and board retreat at 9 a.m. April 3 to allow board members and staff members to discuss how to work together optimally.

“I think we’re starting out working real well together, and I would like it to continue,” Nordholt said.

The board’s next meeting is at 8:30 a.m. April 10 in the park office.