The Russell Township Citizens Park District’s 1-mill levy, now officially dubbed Issue 3, will appear on the March 17 ballot for this year’s primary election to potentially pay for the purchase of 64 acres of property on Music Street.

Members of the park district’s board, created under Ohio Revised Code Section 511, met on Jan. 9 to determine what literature would be needed to promote the levy, looking at options for yard signs and mailing postcards.

At the beginning of the meeting, Shelley Chernin, chairperson of the levy committee, announced that “with the assistance of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the 511 (board) is now under contract to (purchase) 64 acres on Music Street.”

The property, which is south of the adjacent West Woods Nature Center and made up of mostly wooded land and ravine slopes, is priced at $729,000. Ms. Chernin noted, however, that the assistance of the conservancy is contingent upon the levy’s passage. The property is located just west of 8944 Music St.

West Woods Nature Center is part of the Geauga Park District and separate from the Russell Township Citizens Park District.

At full collection, the levy will bring in $270,135 per year for five years, totaling about $1.35 million, Ms. Chernin said. The cost to taxpayers would be $35 annually per $100,000 of home valuation.

The park district was to have met on Jan. 15 to sign off on paperwork to apply for grants to help finance the purchase of the property.

Ms. Chernin added that if the purchase is successful upon voter approval of the levy, there could be two additional properties in the works for purchase that she said she could not identify at the time of the meeting.

Russell Township has two park districts, the citizens board known as 511 and the Russell Township Park District created under Ohio Revised Code Section 1545.

Ms. Chernin said residents were paying for a 1545 levy which expired. “There is no paying double at this point,” she said, referencing past opposition to the district’s levying attempts and noting that neither the 511 or the 1545 park districts are collecting any tax money at this time.

Sam Cottrill started reporting for the Times in February 2019 and covers Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville and Chagrin, Kenston, Solon and West Geauga schools. She graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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