Proposed bonds would pay for Raleigh parks improvements
Posted November 2, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Voters in Raleigh face a choice on Tuesday's ballot of whether to approve $91.8 million in bonds for upgrades to city parks, greenways and community centers.
The referendum is part of a new 20-year plan for Raleigh parks that the City Council approved in May and includes $41.4 million in bonds for parks, $15.6 million for greenways, $27.3 million for buying land and designing new parks or expansions to existing ones and $7.5 million for historic sites and replacing the Pullen Art Center.
"It’s not like it’s just downtown, just north Raleigh; it’s spread out all over the city," Jeff Tippett, chairman of the Parks Bond Advocacy Committee, said of the various projects covered by the bond proposal.
"I don’t think we can become complacent with what we have. We have to keep pushing to make Raleigh a great place to live," Tippett said. "We feel like, with the city’s (bond) ratings right now, it is a good time. We feel like, especially within the urban areas like Raleigh, the economy is stable, and it is a good time to invest in the future."
Paul Fitts, a board member for the Wake County Taxpayers Association, countered that Raleigh residents cannot afford another tax increase to pay for parks.
If approved, the referendum would raise the city tax rate by 1.72 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, so the owner of a $150,000 home would pay an extra $25 in property taxes.
"It’s not that we’re not in favor of parks or maintaining parks. We feel like the general debt of the city is too much at this time," Fitts said.
Raleigh is already paying off $1.8 billion in debt accrued over time, he said, predicting the city officials will return to taxpayers with another bond issue in the next year or two to pay for the transformation of the former Dorothea Dix Hospital property south of downtown into a major park.
"We’re just asking the city to cut back, slim it down, figure out things within your departments you can cut because taxpayers can only give so much," he said.
Tippett said good parks are a key element of the quality of life that attracts new businesses and other ventures to Raleigh.
"It does affect everyone," he said. "Whether we’re on the greenways or not, we’re all impacted by this."
Raleigh mother Claren Englebreth said she loves to take her two sons to local parks to play and ride their bikes on the greenways.
"I do think you can always improve and make things better," Englebreth said. "Fun things for families to do outside is always a good thing."