COLUMBUS — State officials said Wednesday they’ll invest $88.5 million to upgrade and modernize trails, campgrounds, and recreational facilities in Ohio’s state parks over the next two years.
The outlay headed to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources through the state capital budget is more than four times average.
James Zehringer, director of the natural resources department, said the money will be shared among Ohio’s 74 state parks.
Ohio’s is one of seven park systems nationally that charges no entry fees.
Through a Web site launched Wednesday — http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/improvements — parks visitors will help decide which camp sites, cabins, lodges, restrooms, shower houses, trails, roads, and wastewater treatment facilities see improvements, spokesman Bethany Mc-Corkle said. She said the money belongs to taxpayers and the state wants to hear their ideas. Many changes already might have been planned, but there may be some officials haven’t heard of, she said.
Glen Cobb, chief of Ohio State Parks, said many of Ohio’s state park facilities were built in the 1960s and ’70s and now need repairs or upgrades.
No new facilities are planned with the money.
“While it was fine for that era, we certainly need to modernize,” Mr. Cobb said.
New splash pads for sprinkler-hopping youngsters, expanded camper parking and full-service hookups, and trail and bridge upgrades are all part of the effort, he said.
Mr. Cobb said parks funding is typically $15 million to $20 million every two years.
He recalled a previous high of between $35 million and $40 million.
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