Melissa Tacchi, Senior Staff Writer

After voters officially approved a levy allowing for the restoration of Butler County’s MetroParks, officials have decided to move forward with strategic plans.

“For the past year we have evaluated what it is going to take for parks that are closed to get back into operating condition,” MetroParks spokesperson Susan Stretch said. “There are trails that need to be cleared, parking lots that are covered in weeds and broken bridges that need to be restored.”

According to Stretch, the parks have been neglected for years due to a lack of funding. However, with the passage of the levy, the parks will start to see some money coming into its accounts. The levy requires owners of a $100,000 home to pay $15 a year for the parks’ funding.

The levy funds have created leverage for additional state and federal grants that will match the amount taxpayers are contributing, Stretch said.

“In order to get money from the government you have to have money,” Stretch said. “Now that we will have consistent funding, the federal and state grants will allow us to ensure people’s tax dollars go further.”

According to unofficial Butler County Board of Elections results, the MetroParks levy passed by a close margin. Approximately 51 percent of voters elected to pass the issue.

“A majority of people saw the long term benefits of the parks,” Stretch said. “For those who didn’t support the levy, we understand that this is a time of economic challenge, but we think they will be pleased with who they are entrusting their tax dollars with.”

For Miami University first-year and Butler County resident David Trent, the passage of the levy was a positive for him and his family.

“My family and I voted for the MetroParks levy to pass,” Trent said. “Everyone is always hesitant to spend money on anything anymore, but parks benefit all of us, so I can’t think of a better way to spend our tax dollars.”

Officials are currently prioritizing which parks will be restored in what order, but have yet to reveal when the decision will be finalized, Stretch said.

“We are taking into account several factors: the state of each park, the kind of maintenance required and which parks need new playground equipment to name a few,” she said. “We will not be receiving any money for parks until either January or February, so there will be no significant changes until that time.”