Ross County Park District Facing Challenges on Rec Trail, Taking Over Parks

The Ross County Commissioners compared notes with the Ross County Park District Monday. Kevin Coleman was there.

Ross County Park District director Joe Letsche says his board is facing major decisions on keeping the Paint Creek Recreational Trail west of Chillicothe usable.

Most of it was built on an abandoned railroad bed that hugs a stream which has been cutting into its bank for 35 years since the railroad stopped maintaining it. Letsche says the repair costs for rebuilding and protecting the roadbed, bridge abutments, as well as old lumber, "are staggering."

He says that will all be explained soon in a public information meeting, 5:30pm September 27th at the Christopher Conference Center off Bridge Street.

Letsche says that is for information only. Then maybe in a month his board will have another meeting where they will present strategies to deal with the situation. The meetings will also be available on Zoom and be recorded.

Letsche says the Ross County Park District, founded in 1993 and now managing roughly 2,000 acres, is ready to take on the Camp Sherman Park at Frenchtown, and the Ross County Baseball Park on Egypt Pike.

But because both were part of World War I Camp Sherman, the U.S. Government still has some say in the properties. Letsche says the federal government gave it to Ross County in the 1970s, and the county would like to give it to the Park District, but there is still "red tape" from the U.S.

He says the commissioners are willing to let the Park District lease the parks, so it can start managing them...for however long it takes to negotiate at the glacial pace of government.

Kevin Coleman covers local government and culture

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