EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) — For the first time in nine years, voters will determine the future of the Cleveland Metroparks.

Issue 5 on the November ballot is a 2.7-mill replacement levy that would freeze millage for 10 years. Metroparks officials said it will generate about $80 million for the park district and provide more than 60% of its budget. 

“It supports the Cleveland Metroparks operations to maintain over 24,000 acres, it sustains from a safety forces standpoint, and it provides the heartbeat to the system,” said Brian Zimmerman, the Cleveland Metroparks CEO.

Zimmerman joined dozens at the ribbon cutting for the new Eastern Ledge Trail in Euclid Creek Reservation. The mile-long trail featuring a suspension bridge and new overlook 130 feet above Euclid Creek is now the highest in the park district, according to park officials. 

With any levy, asking for additional funding can be a hurdle for voters to get over. Yet many voters expressed support.

“You can’t lose this, this is something every generation can enjoy,” said park visitor Carrie Wilford.

So how much would passing Issue 5 cost voters?

“The total amount you would pay is less than $100,” said Zimmerman. “It’s $92, so the last time, we were in the mid 60s. So under $100 for a $100,000 value, which provides free Mondays for the zoo.”

It’s one reason why Bike Cleveland, a bicycle advocacy organization, is throwing its support behind Issue 5.

“For anyone that uses a bicycle in our region, it’s hard to imagine life without the Metroparks,” said Jason Kuhn, communications manager for Bike Cleveland. “Think about value. There is a lot of things we all choose to invest our money in and for something like the Metroparks, it’s such an asset that reaches so many people. It’s worth the investment, like tenfold.”

This month, Cliffs Bike Park, part of the Cleveland Metroparks, opened in Cuyahoga Heights and is free to all visitors.

According to Zimmerman, a long-term goal of the park system is to have land in every community.

“Safe parks are well-used parks and we want to continue that mantra of this gold medal-winning system having been awarded that in 2021, of best-managed park district in the country,” said Zimmerman. “We know and love our Cleveland Metroparks.”

The passage of Issue 5, Zimmerman said, would support enhancements to the Metroparks police, zoo and parks trail maintenance, along with educational programs, in addition to increasing access to the award-winning park system.

The failure of Issue 5 would force the park district to make “dramatic moves,” Zimmerman said, to sustain the budget.

“There isn’t another park system like this, and we very much appreciate voter support on Nov. 8,” said Zimmerman.