Advocacy in Action

Core to our mission, the Friends of Metro Parks monitors and advocates for the conservation and protection of Summit Metro Park's park lands at the federal, state, and local levels on behalf of its members. Below are several of the legislative issues the Friends of Metro Parks has advocated for or in opposition to over the last several years.

HR 1678

June

2021

ISSUE

HR 1678 directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish a Parks, Jobs, and Equity Program to support job creation, economic revitalization, and park development for communities impacted by COVID–19. Specifically, the bill directs the allocation of $500 million in federal funding to support local parks whose budgets were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This one-time investment seeks to build and upgrade parks across America with a focus on low-income communities.

 

Funds may be used for:

  • Acquiring land or water that will be used to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to the public.

  • Developing or renovating outdoor recreational facilities that provide outdoor recreation opportunities to the public.

  • Improving delivery of recreation services to the public.

  • Develop native event sites and cultural gathering spaces.

Funds may not be used for: 

  • Maintenance activities;

  • Facilities that support semiprofessional or professional athletics;

  • Indoor facilities such as recreation centers or facilities that support primarily nonoutdoor purposes;

  • Activities that are not in accordance with Comprehensive State Plans under section 200305 of title 54, United States Code; or

  • Acquisition of land or interests in land that restrict access to specific persons.

OUR POSITION

Friends of Metro Parks supports this bill for these reasons:

 

  • According to the Trust for Public Land, 56 percent of local parks have seen budget cuts in 2021, in part due to the pandemic.

  • The allocation of resources would support the ongoing efforts of park districts, particularly those in low-income communities, to deliver nature-based recreational services to the public. 

  • Seeks to expand the aggregate of lands and waters that the public would have access to for recreational activities while responsibility restricting the use of funds for non-nature-based undertakings. 

 

Additional information about this pending legislation may be found here:

House Bill 288

June

2019

ISSUE

HB 288 proposes to prohibit the use of eminent domain to appropriate land for trails. The bill would require approval from cities or townships before eminent domain can be used for a trail. The bill, and its included emergency clause, stem from a case in Mill Creek Metro Park in Northeast Ohio, where residents have opposed turning over land for a trail.

OUR POSITION

Friends of Metro Parks stands with Summit Metro Parks to oppose this bill and amendment for these reasons:

 

  • The amendment would subject O.R.C. 1545 park districts decisions to the decisions of other governmental entities setting a dangerous precedent;

  • The amendment would subject the eminent domain process to a political authority;

  • Local control already exists with the probate judge having the current authority to appoint park commissioners; and,

  • The ultimate local control already exists because park districts must periodically face voters in order to receive continuing funding for operations.

 

The possibility of eminent domain is used primarily as a tool to bring property owners back to the conversation; as a way to facilitate and continue the negotiations. It is used as a last resort only. If this bill is passed, the impact could include major delays to trail development or it could completely stop trail development projects with a negative impact on a currently thriving recreation and transportation amenity. 

House Bill 736

October

2018

ISSUE

HB 736 was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives by Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Hamilton County.) The bill would “require certain subdivisions governed by a board comprised of at least one unelected official to obtain the approval of the legislative body that created the subdivision before levying a tax.”  In other words, Summit Metro Parks would need approval from the Summit County Executive prior to placing a levy on the ballot.
 
Sec. 1545.212. The board of park commissioners of a park district created under this chapter may not certify a tax resolution to a county board of elections under section 1545.041 or 1545.21 of the Revised Code unless the board first obtains the approval of the board of county commissioners of the county within which the park district has territory. To obtain such approval, the board of park commissioners shall adopt the tax resolution and shall certify a copy of the resolution to the board of county commissioners. Within fifteen days following such certification, the board of county commissioners may adopt and certify to the board of park commissioners a resolution approving or disapproving certification of the tax resolution to a county board of elections. If the board of county commissioners does not adopt and certify such a resolution within that period, the board of park commissioners may not certify the tax resolution to the board of elections.

OUR POSITION

Friends of Metro Parks opposes this bill for these reasons:

  • Park districts have been established by the General Assembly as independent governmental entities. This proposal removes some of that independent authority;

  • One benefit of that independence has been to keep politics out of the operation of park districts. Allowing the elected county executive to decide whether or not to place park district levies before voters subjects those levies to potential political interference;

  • The county executive is not intimately aware of the day-to-day operations of a park district—and they shouldn’t be expected to be. Therefore, they would be making decisions about funding an agency with which they are not operationally familiar;

  • More than 90% of park district levies have passed in Ohio during the past 10 years; there is no reason to add red tape to getting park levies on the ballet. Summit Metro Parks’ last levy was supported by over 75% of the vote.

Endangered Species Act

August

2018

ISSUE

There have been several proposed rule changes to the Endangered Species Act. In the U.S. Senate, a discussion draft includes many sections that would set back the Endangered Species Act. In the U.S. House, a range of bills have been introduced. Of note, is a rule change that would require a cost/benefit analysis to INDUSTRY for the listing of threatened and endangered species. 

OUR POSITION

Aligning with our partner, Summit Metro Parks, we feel this is unacceptable. We stand next to Summit Metro Parks for reasons outlined in their letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dated August 9, 2018. Friends of Metro Parks opposes changes to the ESA as currently proposed in the discussion draft in the U.S. Senate.