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‘Yes’ for renewal of Salem Parks and Recreation levy!

Pretty soon you will hear sounds like “hey batter, batter” and birds chirping melodic songs. You will hear laughter and cheers. Sometimes you won’t hear a thing which can very soothing in its own way.

You will see folks using the nature trail. Some using the ballfields. Parents and grandparents taking children to the playgrounds. You will see pet owners — always using a leashes, of course — walking their dogs. You will see some feeding the ducks. You will see some fishing at the city lake and picnicking in the park pavilions. Pretty soon hundreds of kids will gleefully participate in Easter egg hunts. Hundreds of kids in costume partake in the annual Trail of Treats during the Halloween season. And “Art in the Park” and “Story Trail” — all part of the “Go Wild in the Park” programs which have been wonderfully received by residents of all ages. The Centennial Pool is coming off a big year. Many of us can remember playing softball and even pick-up baseball at Kelley Park. Or hoops at Centennial.

All of these things occur regularly within the Salem Parks system. On Tuesday, city voters will determine the fate of a renewal levy — renewal as in no additional taxes. We heartily endorse its passage.

This levy is an operating levy. Money generated is used toward salaries and benefits (insurance, workman’s comp, etc.), equipment (trucks, mowers, ballfield groomers, pool vacuums, etc.) and general supplies and materials (leaf blowers, weed eaters, paint, chainsaws, etc.) along with the maintenance of those supplies and materials. Electric, natural gas, fuel (gas and kerosene) and required licenses are also paid for from money generated from the levy.

The Salem Parks system includes six recreational areas totaling 386.5 acres: Salem City Lake, 220 acres; Eagleton Glenn Recreation Area, 70 acres (69 undeveloped); Waterworth Memorial Park, 63 acres; Centennial Park, 26 acres; Kelley Park, 6.5 acres and W. H. Mullins Park, 1 acre.

Waterworth Memorial Park and Centennial Park are prime examples of the breadth of opportunities for park users.

Waterworth Memorial Park has five baseball/softball fields, three pavilions with a seating capacity of 260, three playground areas, a duck pond, two restrooms, a concession stand, three tennis/pickleball courts, a horseshoe pit, a 25-acre nature trail with abundant wildlife, two basketball courts, a prairie garden, a dog park, a band shell which is a delight for weekly concert-goers in the summertime and three separate large parking lots.

Centennial Park offers two baseball fields, three tennis courts, two basketball courts, a horseshoe pit, shuffleboard, men’s and women’s bathrooms, the Swings & Things playground, seven pavilions with a seating capacity of 360, five parking lots, Centennial Pool (over 400,000 gallons) with bathhouse and splash pad, decorative water fountain and numerous picnic tables and benches.

Here are some of the highlights from 2019.

— Open house for new office at 2222 Oak St. New roof shingles on office building.

— Easter Egg Hunt, Fourth of July activities and Trail of Treats, all in Waterworth Memorial Park, attracting more than 1,000 participants.

— Continued restocking of Salem City Lake with walleye.

— Upgrades, including new climbing boulders and handicap swings made to Swings & Things Playground in Centennial Park.

— A 2012 Ford 250, four-wheel drive and new 20-foot trailer purchased.

— A grass infield installed at Galchick Field in Centennial Park.

— Duck pond upgrades in Waterworth Memorial Park (Stephen Baer, Eagle Scout project).

— Upgrades to Centennial Pool including painting projects and installation of baby changing tables (Zac Tungate, Eagle Scout project).

— Tennis courts reconstructed at Waterworth Memorial Park with a new parking lot established. (help with funding from the Salem Community Foundation)

— Thirteen security cameras installed throughout the parks system (help with funding from the Salem Community Foundation)

— LED lights purchased and installed at Swings & Things Playground and the Band Shell.

— Fourteen Summer Concerts at the Band Shell in Waterworth Memorial Park.

— Water fountain (Centennial Park) and Prairie Garden (Waterworth Memorial Park) constructed. Help with funding these two projects provided by the Columbiana County Land Bank. Master Gardeners from Columbiana & Mahoning Counties, through the OSU, Columbiana County Extension, donated materials and helped design the garden.

— Sports programs including girls softball, adult softball, boys baseball, men’s basketball, Tot Soccer, Tot T-ball and tennis and pickleball (some programs are in partnership with the Salem Community Center).

— NatureWorks (ODNR) grant approved for remodeling of restrooms at Waterworth Memorial Park.

— Water station installed at the Dog Park (Rotary donation).

Project Plan for 2020: Construct and install adult outdoor fitness equipment and upgrade bathroom/concession stand in Waterworth Memorial Park. Re-stain and paint Swings & Things Playground and open a concession stand at Centennial Pool in Centennial Park. Install a wheelchair accessible swing in W. H. Mullins Park. Repair and possibly relocate fence at Lions Field. Continue to work on drainage issues at all baseball and softball fields. Repair and upgrade all pavilions as much as possible. Look to replace all light fixtures in all parks (including Kelley) with LED lighting. Continue to place security cameras in strategic locations throughout the parks.

The Salem Parks & Recreation Department partners with:

— The Salem Public Library to offer a minimum of 24 yearly programs and activities entitled “Go Wild in the Parks.”

— The Salem Community Center with programs such as Tot Soccer, Tot T-Ball, Summer Kids Camp, Pitch, Hit & Run local qualifier and several 5K races.

— The Salem School District in providing tennis courts for both the girls and boys teams, a softball field for the girls JV teams to practice and play on, one of the area’s most popular cross-country courses and free access to pavilions for any school activity.

The 1.0 mill renewal levy which will be on the Tuesday ballot would generate about $209,700 in revenue. Cost to homeowner per $100,000 property value: $34/year. That is $2.84 per month or nine cents a day.

Some of you take advantage of what the parks have to offer. If you haven’t and are able, please do so. You will be very pleased. If you are not a parks person, appreciate the reality that, yes, they are an asset of our fair city. And, yes, the parks continue to get better under the leadership of director Shane Franks who has implemented outstanding programs and workmanship. Please enable him and his staff to continue to so.

Residents have always taken care of all that makes our city such a splendid place to live and raise children. The parks are part of the reason for Salem being so great. The parks system is a city gem. Let’s keep it shiny. Vote “yes” on Tuesday.

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