No water park this year

By Wayne Allen

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Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law this week a $71.2 billion two-year budget for the state. Included within the budget was an amendment to allow Scioto County to build a water splash park. Scioto County Commissioners say it’s not likely the park will be open this year.

Scioto County was allotted $250,000 in the state capital improvement budget, through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The county had initially planned to build a campground with the funding, and instead the county has moved forward with plans for a water splash park at River Side Park in West Portsmouth.

In order to change the scope of the project, the county had to lobby state representatives to introduce an amendment to the budget to change the scope of the project.

With the budget being signed into law, the Scioto County Commissioners can proceed with the project. On Tuesday, the Scioto County Commissioners said having an amendment placed in the budget has really slowed down the project, and it’s not likely the park will be operational this year. Scioto County Commissioner Chairman Mike Crabtree said the water splash park may be constructed this year, but not operational until next year.

Now that the budget has been signed into law, the county will have to lobby ODNR to make a request to the state controlling board to release the funding. Once approved by the controlling board, the county can proceed with the project.

According to Scioto County Commissioner Doug Coleman, the overall project will cost between $440,000 and $445,000. Coleman would not go into further details on where the additional funding is coming from, only saying, “there’s other money available.”

Crabtree said the commissioners have been discussing the project with two potential contractors. He said one of the potential contractors told him the water splash park could operational within four weeks of starting.

Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis said the water splash park will be located in the northwest corner of Riverside Park. He said that location was chosen due to its proximity to water and sewage lines.

Other provision within the budget continues expansion of the Medicaid health program and provides an Ohio income tax cut. The spending measure would provide a 6.3 percent state income tax cut beginning in tax year 2015 as a part of a roughly $1.9 billion net tax reduction. That would lower the top income tax rate to just below 5 percent. Smokers would see a 35-cent increase on a pack of cigarettes under the bill, which also set aside money for police training, eliminates special elections in February and prohibits independent health care and child care workers under contract with the state from unionizing.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT. The Associated Press contributed to the story.

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