RAPID 5 Establishes Land Trust and Receives Major Gift from Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS)

With unanimous board approval, RAPID 5 makes a significant step to ensure nature takes center stage in central Ohio’s future

COLUMBUS, OHIO – October 23, 2023 – RAPID 5 will establish a land trust in its quest to create the largest interconnected park system in the country, and Advanced Drainage Systems deepens its commitment to the cause. 

“Establishing a land trust is a foundational next step of our journey,” says Keith Myers, RAPID 5 founding member and Board Chair. “By doing so, RAPID 5 can help all parties put nature at the center of their planning.” 

According to the national Land Trust Alliance, “land trusts work in their communities to conserve habitat… secure water quality, ensure land is available for future generations, provide equitable access to nature … and so much more.” 

Land trusts exist in over 90% of U.S. counties and every major urban area in Ohio except Columbus. 

By creating a land trust, RAPID 5 will be in a better position to help central Ohio communities secure, restore and protect land, whether urban, suburban, or rural. 

The Board made this move to help all stakeholders on the journey: 

  • RAPID 5 can now better help city leaders create public spaces and natural corridors that improve the appeal of their communities and extend beyond their jurisdictions. 
  • By establishing a land trust, RAPID 5 can ensure that more land is protected and preserved. 
  • Underserved communities can rely on RAPID 5 for equitable access to nature. 
  • RAPID 5 can assist interested private land owners and farmers with conservation easements that benefit families and the public at the same time. 

Since the beginning, RAPID 5’s strategic goal has been to be a convener that helps create connections between communities and stakeholders that are often very difficult to establish.

“Our role is unique by design,” adds Myers. “As a convener, RAPID 5 realized early on that we can’t be just another party at the table, with our own stake in deals. We want to convene all parties impartially - as an ombudsman of sorts – secure in the fact that we all share the same dream.” 

“RAPID 5’s main mission is to connect people to nature and each other,” adds RAPID 5 board member Kerstin Carr, MORPC Chief Regional Strategy Officer. “By establishing a land trust, we’re now in an even better position to accelerate our community’s important work. Accepting land donations along our river corridors allows us to increase the number of greenspaces in our region while helping to protect our river corridors. RAPID 5 can add value in many other ways, too, but this first move sets the foundation.” 

ADS Joins The Cause 

RAPID 5 is also excited to announce a $250,000 gift from Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS), a local manufacturer of stormwater and onsite septic wastewater solutions. 

“We’ve been involved with RAPID 5 from the beginning, funding some of the initial vision work,” said Brian King, ADS EVP for Marketing and Sustainability. “Our foundation’s mission is to inspire social equity for organizations that develop access and preservation of clean water. In other words, from both a business and charitable giving perspective, ADS exists to protect and manage water for all communities, and RAPID 5 ties to our mission perfectly.” 

“We are so thrilled ADS is deepening its relationship to RAPID 5,” notes Carr. “This entire effort is about everyone coming together, and ADS understands that so well.” 

Columbus: A Unique Opportunity In The Country 

When Columbus was growing throughout the early 20th century, nature often took a back seat to road, highway, and neighborhood development, especially in underserved neighborhoods. All the while, five major waterways and surrounding greenways persevered in our midst, stewarded by the heroic conservation efforts of visionary Columbus leaders and our Metro Parks organization. 

This dynamic created a good news/bad news situation: even though central Ohio is surrounded by nature, current land ownership fractures connections between waterways and greenways. From a recreational standpoint alone, these gaps in nature force people off their bikes and into cars, or out of their kayaks between obstructions. 

The good news: in the quest to help create continuous blueways and greenways, we have smaller gaps to fill than most cities. From a land trust perspective, this makes agreements easier to execute. Stakeholders can secure mere portions of properties to unlock major connections across all five waterways. 

“Years from now, these corridors and their tributaries will be transformed,” Myers predicts. “Imagine biking or kayaking from Dublin, New Albany, or Linden all the way down to Audubon Park and never leaving the system. The equity implications alone are very inspiring to me.” 

“RAPID 5 is more than just a community resource, it’s a movement,” says Kevin Talley, ADS Foundation president. “This may be one of the biggest reasons of all for our participation: to help drive employee engagement in nature, especially through volunteerism. We are very eager to activate our 400 plus central Ohio area employees in the cause.” 

“Thanks to our board’s initiative and the ADS gift, RAPID 5 can now help bring us all closer to nature in a big way,” said Carr. 

To help RAPID 5 take this next step, the organization is working with Broadview Talent Partners to launch the search for the next Executive Director by the end of this month. 

About RAPID 5 

Formed by the ULI Columbus and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) with community input, RAPID 5 is a non-profit with a vision for one regional park system along central Ohio’s five major waterways. RAPID 5’s goal is to connect all Central Ohio residents to the region's natural, cultural, and economic resources for purposes of recreation, commuting, commerce, education, and relaxation. 

By connecting our five waterways, over 80 municipalities, nearly 40,000 acres of parks, and hundreds of miles of trails, RAPID 5 can create the largest interconnected park system in the country. When complete, over three million residents will be within a mile of water or greenspace. 

Since achieving status as an Ohio 501(c)(3) organization in July 2022, RAPID 5 has focused on strategic and operational planning with the Board. 

About Advanced Drainage Systems 

Advanced Drainage Systems is a leading manufacturer of innovative stormwater and onsite septic wastewater solutions that manages the world’s most precious resource: water. ADS and its subsidiary, Infiltrator Water Technologies, provide superior stormwater drainage and onsite septic wastewater products used in a wide variety of markets and applications including commercial, residential, infrastructure and agriculture, while delivering unparalleled customer service. ADS manages the industry’s largest company-owned fleet, an expansive sales team, and a vast manufacturing network of approximately 70 manufacturing plants and 40 distribution centers. The company is one of the largest plastic recycling companies in North America, ensuring over half a billion pounds of plastic is kept out of landfills every year. Founded in 1966, ADS’ water management solutions are designed to last for decades. To learn more, visit the company’s website at www.adspipe.com

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