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Published: Wednesday, 7/12/2006

New park's funding will be up to voters

This draft conceptual plan is a preliminary sketch of the proposed Lewis Ansted Community Park in Bedford Township. This draft conceptual plan is a preliminary sketch of the proposed Lewis Ansted Community Park in Bedford Township.

While Bedford Township has new park land and preliminary sketches of what could be in the park, it's up to the voters on Aug. 8 to fund the project.

The township park commission is asking voters for a 5 percent millage increase to support the development of Lewis Ansted Community Park - named after one of the township's founders - said Mike Pasco, treasurer of the township's park board.

The former millage rate of 0.25 generated about $225,000 annually for parks, while the proposed 0.30 millage would generate about $294,000, he said.

The township bought the 71-acre piece of land on the southeast corner of Samaria Road and Lewis Avenue from the Roberts family in March for $350,000.

It paid about $80,000 for 14 of the acres, which will be used as a municipal cemetery.

The remaining 57 acres are for the park.

"We have no free plots in any of our cemeteries as of this date," said township clerk Bob Schockman. "But next year by this time we should have started to develop two acres of this land for use as a cemetery."

The commission bought the land with its park improvement funds, which can be used for park improvements, land acquisitions, and operating expenses.

There's about $125,000 left in this fund.

The 57-acre park will have a sledding hill, a pond, tennis courts, volleyball courts, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, basketball courts, walking trails, a picnic area, a playground, a parking lot, a proposed BMX bike area, and an ice skating area, Mr. Schockman said.

Mr. Pasco said if the tax levy doesn't pass in August or in November, when the proposed millage could be put up for vote again, then the remaining $125,000 in the park improvement fund might be used to start the development of the park's pond and sledding hill.

"The first step will be adding the sledding hill and the four-acre pond, which will include a catch-and-release fishing section, a swimming area, and the pond will be surrounded by a wildlife area," said Mark Fuller, chairman of the township's park commission.

Meanwhile, the park commission is leasing out the land to the Albring Farm company for $300,000.

"If we don't get the millage, we will probably lease the northern part of property to another farmer," said Mr. Fuller.

He said farmers have offered to pay up to $900,000 for use of this land.

Mr. Fuller said that the commission hopes to find people who are willing to donate time, materials, and equipment to help with development work.

The park commission maintains five large parks - Indian Creek, White Park, Parmile, Carrs Grove, and Samaria - in addition to maintaining various smaller, toddler-oriented parks throughout the community.

Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch

at babloch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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