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Published: Wednesday, 4/6/2005

Bedford Township: Officials ready offer on site for sixth park

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE - Bedford Township officials are putting together an offer on land here that they plan to develop into a sixth township park and new cemetery.

The location and size of the property, however, remain a closely-guarded secret. Officials said they don't want to reveal the site for fear someone else will buy it or the price will go up.

"It's in Bedford. That's all I can say," said township clerk Bob Schockman, who sits on both the township board and the Parks and Recreation Commission, which will jointly buy the land.

Township Parks and Recreation Commission member Connie Velliquette said that, while she couldn't disclose any information about the property the township is pursuing, the need for another park becomes clear whenever there is good weather.

"The township is growing, and White Park and Carr Park are packed," Mrs. Velliquette said. "If you go to any of our parks during the summer and check the license plates, you find not only people from Bedford but from Ohio and all over the south county as well. People all talk about how nice they are, and they add to local property values because people want to be closer to them."

The Parks and Recreation Commission passed a quarter-mill levy in August, 2003 that, for the first time, gave the agency its own dedicated and relatively stable source of funding. The commission wasted little time with the funds, quickly replacing decades-old playground equipment in all of the township's main parks and vastly increasing their popularity in the process.

Mrs. Velliquette said that one of the park commission's main objectives is land acquisition, as well as preserving green space and recreational opportunities for local residents. She said that the new land acquisition, if successful, would help achieve that goal.

"The way this township is growing, if we don't act to preserve some green space now, we're going to have [nothing but] subdivisions."

If the township is successful in acquiring the property, it likely won't take possession until much later in the year, Mr. Schockman said. While that delay will be relatively meaningless for a park - it will still take more time to develop and build playground equipment, ball parks, and other amenities - it can't come soon enough for a new cemetery.

Mr. Schockman said his office recently sold its last remaining municipal cemetery plot, meaning that for the first time since 1942, the township can't provide secular land on which to bury its dead.

"We need land, that's all there is to it," Mr. Schockman said. "We have a number of churches in the area with cemeteries that have space, but in those, you usually have to be a member."

Mr. Schockman has been on a mission to acquire new land for a cemetery since shortly after taking office in 2000. A few years ago, he sent letters to the owner of every vacant parcel in the township over five acres in size seeking anyone interested in selling their land for a new cemetery.

Five acres would provide enough land for as many as 6,000 graves, enough for the foreseeable future. However, the effort ultimately proved fruitless.



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