BY D’ARCY EGAN
A rejuvenated Park District of Ottawa County has work in progress on hiking and biking trails around the county. A five-member board that has been meeting with regularity, and Board President Gary Kohli has announced the introduction of a park tax levy for the Nov. 3 ballot.
“Local funding for projects and operations are still critical to the implementation of the Ottawa County Active Transportation Plan, developed under the direction of the Ottawa County Commissioners in 2018,” said Kohli. “More significantly, local funds will enable the Park District to access significant levels of grant money that is available at the state and federal levels when local match money is available.”
The proposed 0.6 mill tax levy is calculated to cost $21 per $100,000 in property valuation per year. It would raise about $1.1 million for the Park District of Ottawa County for capital projects and operations and maintenance.
“We look forward to a healthy and robust future for Ottawa County, and are eager to be a part of it,” said Kohli. Members of the Park District Board are Judy Indorf, Jack Madison, Mike Shadoan and Angela LaForce.
Currently under construction in western Ottawa County is an extension of the North Coast Inland Trail from Elmore to Genoa. The 4.1-mile project initiated by the villages of Genoa and Elmore, along with the Ottawa County Commissioners, will cost $2.5 million, mostly covered by grants from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“We need to develop biking and hiking trails all over Ottawa County,” said Dennis Patthoff, founder and president of the Friends of Ottawa County Park District. Patthoff is a retired insurance agent and a lieutenant colonel with 29 years of construction experience in the U.S. Army Reserves.
“I’d been a combat engineer for years, and I like bulldozers and building highways,” he said. “There is such a need for recreational corridors in Ottawa County, especially in the more developed eastern end of the county.”
The Park District is continuing to identify projects that need to be done, such as a collaboration with the Wood County Park District and the Village of Genoa to extend the North Coast Inland Trail from Genoa to Millbury, in Wood County. The construction of the Elmore to Genoa trail is ongoing, and the park district is working with Sandusky County and the Boy Scouts to develop a portion of a former farm near Elmore for Boy Scout projects and camping.
With the Portage River Water Trail expected to be completed soon between Port Clinton and Oak Harbor, which includes additional access and signage for paddlers, state grants are being sought for a non-motorized boat launch at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds in Oak Harbor.
Conceptual discussions call for the development of a multi-use trail from the Miller Ferry Dock on Catawba Island to East Harbor State Park.
Patthoff has long been seeking trails for bikers and hikers around Danbury Township and the Marblehead Peninsula, an especially thorny problem in the densely-populated area.
“Danbury Township officials did a land use study four years ago, and the No. 1 request was for safe trails for bikers that would include a route on Bayshore Road,” said Patthoff. “Many would love to be able to get around the Marblehead Peninsula on their bikes.”