COLUMBUS-- State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) this week questioned state officials on whether local communities get their fair share of state grants for boating facilities compared to state parks.
"Ohio's river communities deserve the opportunity to compete on an even playing field for state boating grants," said Cera. "With ODNR already receiving $26 million in capital funds for state projects, I am concerned that the agency is taking money away from a grant program meant for local communities."
The Bellaire lawmaker's questions came during Monday's hearing of the state Controlling Board, a panel tasked with oversight of state spending. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) was before the board to request state money to upgrade lighting at Rocky Fork State Park North Beach Marina in Hillsboro, Ohio through the Cooperative Funding for Boating Facilities fund.
Cera asked the ODNR official present whether state facilities are in fact competing with local community projects, and questioned the fairness of ODNR's grant award decision-making process given that the state sometimes competes against local communities for state support for boating projects.
"I know of several boat launch projects in eastern Ohio, including one in Powhatan Point, that would benefit from state support and which I believe deserve fair consideration," said Cera. "I believe we need to review the current grant award process to ensure local boating projects aren't being unfairly disadvantaged by the state."
Cera noted he wasn't questioning whether the Rocky Fork State Park project deserved state support, but rather the fairness of the overall decision-making process.