Check out our 2024 Metro Parks Budget and Annual Report

RICK McGIVERN
Finance Director and Treasurer

The 2024 Metro Parks Budget was recently approved by our Board of Park Commissioners. This will fund our mission to provide clean, safe parks and natural outdoor spaces. The 2024 Budget Request and Annual Report is full of great photos and information and includes full details of our finances, our parks, and the work of our many departments that offer public programs for you, our park supporters and visitors.

In 2023, Metro Parks forged ahead with several new and innovative projects, such as the Blacklick Woods Canopy Walk and the Scioto Grove Fire Tower. Environmental improvements were also a priority as we reclaimed former quarries to a more natural state at both Quarry Trails and Bank Run Metro Parks. A collaborative project with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will improve water quality at Walnut Creek by channeling water through wetlands, allowing pollutants to settle and slowing the waterway.

Construction teams were on site at Blacklick Woods for many months in 2023, preparing the way for the Canopy Walk. This exciting new feature will open in spring 2024 and features a 50-foot-high observation tower and a boardwalk that weaves through the tree tops, about 35 feet above ground. Photo Larry Peck

Visitation also grew in 2023. Metro Parks now serves approximately 2 million more visitors as compared to our pre-Covid 2019 attendance levels, a total percentage increase of nearly 20 percent.

Metro Parks offers all of this at a very competitive price. As compared to other large Ohio park districts, Metro Parks has among the lowest cost per acre, lowest millage, lowest charges for services and lowest personnel expenses per employee.
Metro Parks also has no debt, which allows for the investment of tax revenues rather than the fees and interest costs of debt financing. This investment income hit a record in 2023, enough to pay for nearly all vehicle and equipment purchases in 2023, a cost exceeding $1 million. These assets will likely last for several years and include the trucks, tractors, snow removal and safety equipment and other machinery and equipment needed to keep the parks in great shape.

Outdoor recreation was once again popular in 2023. The Blacklick Woods Golf Course, which once again raised revenue and kept expenses in line, provided an inexpensive and nature-friendly golf experience. The Outdoor Adventure programs expanded to offer kayak and paddleboard opportunities on our many lakes and even offered our unique Via Ferrata at Quarry Trails. It was also a year of festival-like experiences, as evidenced by strong attendance at SciotoFest, WagFest, and FallFest, among many other events.

Climbers navigate the cliff face on Quarry Trails Metro Park’s via ferrata. Photo Stefan Bruch

Metro Parks also expanded its acreage through targeted land acquisition, and now stands at 28,600 acres (nearly 45 square miles), larger than Westerville, Pickerington, Upper Arlington, Obetz and Powell, combined!

The Vision of Metro Parks is to: Change Lives… Naturally! The 2024 budget provides the blueprint for achieving that vision while acting as a careful steward of taxpayer funds. To learn more, please see the 2024 budget and annual report.

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