MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Park District’s attendance is booming with a record number of visitors flocking to its parks for fresh air, recreation and a change of scenery.
Last week, the park board of commissioners received the reports of record attendance at its parks.
With the majority of businesses closed, schools canceled for the year and limited recreation choices, each one of the county’s 10 parks or trail areas have recorded nearly double visitations in the month of March compared to March of last year.
Miami County Park District Executive Director Scott Myers said attendance at its parks has been “large.”
“Our parks are being heavily used, but we are really not seeing any major issues,” Myers said this week. “because of our outlying parks being so remote and so spread out, people are doing a great job of social distancing, looking out for each other — all those kinds of things.”
March attendance was 84 percent higher than last year’s March, which was 16 percent higher than March 2018.
“We’ve been really pleasantly surprised from a wear and tear on the parks, littering has not reflected on the increase of visitation,” Myers said. “People seem to be doing a good job leaving no trace as they are leaving our parks.”
Myers said maintenance staff have commented on the care patrons have had in the surge of visits.
Since shuttering the park district’s most popular park, Charleston Falls, the park district has campaigned for park-goers to try out its other green spaces and trails to enjoy. Prior to closing, Charleston Falls Preserve, near Huber Heights, registered around 37,000 patrons in the month of March, compared to under 25,000 in March 2019.
“We are working on an opening plan for Charleston (Falls)” Myers said. Myers said a reopening date will likely be announced next week. “We want to get it open, but we want to do it safely.” District officials had to close down Charleston Falls due on April 3 due to overcrowding, parking issues out and safety precautions. Myers said infrastructure additions have been made to the park to keep foot traffic flowing as well as parking lot design to spread patrons out and away from one another.
Its second most popular park, Stillwater Prairie Reserve, near Covington, doubled its visitation with approximately 18,000 visitors in March, compared to around 9,000 in March 2019.
Myers said the park district will not be impacted by the state budget cuts, but does receive state-sourced grants for projects that may be limited in the future. The majority of the park district’s revenue is through county property taxes, Myers said. Registration fees for programming will also be limited due to the park canceling its programs thus far, but won’t impact the district’s funds in a major way.
• The board approved to enter into an agreement with Candace Goodall for the preliminary design, bid and construction documents and construction contract administration for the new community building at Lost Creek Reserve at a cost not to exceed $38,700. The board approved to pay $7,500 to Choice One Engineering for a final site plan for the construction of the community building at Lost Creek Reserve.
• The board approved to enter into an agreement with Ross Construction and Properties LLC to build a 26.5-foot bridge at the Stillwater Prairie connector at a cost not to exceed $15,000.