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Cleveland Metroparks levy passage means more greenspace, higher property taxes for Cuyahoga County

Wooden sign in front of the parking lot at the Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation
Tim Harrison
Ideastream Public Media
Wooden sign in front of the parking lot at the Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation

Northeast Ohio voters overwhelmingly passed the Cleveland Metroparks levy Tuesday to fund an expansion at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and greenspace investment on the city’s East Side according to unofficial election results.

The 10-year levy appeared as Issue 5 on Cuyahoga County ballots. It passed with almost 77% of the vote. Voters in Hinckley Township in Medina County, which includes Metroparks' Hinckley Reservation, approved a related levy with 67 percent of the vote. With the levy passed, the park system can move forward with plans to expand and improve greenspace in the region through the county’s Greenway Plan, CHEERS (the Cleveland Harbor Eastern Embayment Resilience Study)
and partnerships with local mayors, Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman said.

“So, there are a number of things that the Metroparks will continue to do to enhance people's quality of life in northeast Ohio, in particular Cuyahoga County and Hinckley Township.”

Cleveland Metroparks CFO Wade Steen told Ideastream in September that the levy will add $12 million to $14 million each year to the parks’ revenue.

“We've worked very hard to use the funds that are given to the Metroparks for the good of the community,” Zimmerman said, “and we've really proven that over the last two decades plus.”

The Cleveland Metroparks is working with the city of Cleveland and the Port of Cleveland to develop new greenspace on the Lake Erie shoreline near the St. Clair-Superior and Glenville neighborhoods. They’ll also be working with East Cleveland on improving a portion of Forest Hills Park.

The funds could also be used to expand the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s RainForest building and gorilla and orangutan, Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman told Ideastream in September.

Funds from the levy will also be used to help the parks keep up within rising inflation, Zimmerman said.

“When you as an agency have remained debt free, the numbers that we have that we live in the next ten-year cycle, that's the money that we have to live in,” Zimmerman said. “So, that's why this validation and support from the community was so appreciated by the entire Metroparks team, the volunteers that that help and then our park goers as well to be able to have the benefit of this great park district.”

The 2.7-mill replacement levy increases property taxes for homeowners by about $27 for every $100,000 of home valuation.

This means that homeowner’s tax contribution to Cleveland Metroparks will increase from $67.38 to $94.50 per $100,000 of valuation.

“It's truly humbling to see the overwhelming support in the community for the park district,” Zimmerman said. “I know our founder would be extremely pleased with the 105-year evolution of the park district [and] to know that we helped families go through the pandemic of the last number of years.”

Updated: November 9, 2022 at 9:43 AM EST
This article was updated to include information from Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman after the levy passed.
Zaria Johnson is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media covering the environment.