TROY — Kevin Swanson, deputy director of the Miami County Park District, is passionate about the green spaces in our area. He shared information on the 50-year history, and the future, of the district with Troy Rotarians during their weekly meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Many may not realize that parks are a public service. As a result, they must compete for the limited taxes in the community to provide the greatest benefit to those who live in the Miami County area. Often, it’s difficult to justify how taxes are used to promote the value of these amenities when taxpayers are focused on basic health, safety and welfare needs.
The concept of community parks began two centuries ago when Central Park in New York City was established. That’s also when the ongoing education of taxpayers began to help them embrace the benefits communities receive from improved economies, environmental preservation, and social problem solving. Locally, educating users of the park system remains a top priority.
The Miami County Park District is in its fourth year of implementing its 2014 strategic plan. Through surveys, feedback, best practices and internal analysis, the district has been busy introducing new programs and projects while eliminating obsolete ones that are no longer needed. They continue to conserve land by buying perpetual easements, planting new trees and providing wildlife areas for passive uses. A new focus is in the realm of health and wellness, which 82 percent of those surveyed perceived as very important. Many ongoing programs, and all new ones, include health and wellness objectives. Trails, bikeways, pedestrian bridges, walking paths, and other amenities are key to supporting that initiative. The Trail Run Challenge is an excellent example of a relatively new program the district implemented in 2012. A five-race, 5K run series around the local properties each spring and summer has become a popular challenge, one which also promotes healthy food choices. The Miami County Park District continues to evolve and to provide community benefits and strategic positions to sustain long-term relevance and support. For additional information, visit their website at www.miamicountyparks.com.
Follow their activities on Facebook at Troy Rotary Club. To learn more about Rotary and membership in the club, visit www.troyohiorotary.org.