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Bond Referendum Could Benefit Parks, But Critics Concerned About Its Wording

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Parks and greenways in Raleigh could get a $47 million facelift through a bond referendum on next week's ballot.

Some people favor the referendum. Others are wary of how it is worded.

The 90-year old carousel at Pullen Park, the park's aging boat ride and its playground all will get a facelift if voters approve the referendum.

The carousel is "extremely historic," said Jamie Ramsey, of Friends of Parks.

It is a historic treasure that is beginning to show its age.

"There are some landscape boards on the outside that need to be restored," Ramsey said. "The animals need to be taken care of."

The bond actually will do three things. It will fund improvements at existing parks. It will pay for the acquisition of more greenways, and pay for new parks.

"Many of us came here or stay here because of the quality of life," Friends of Park's Sig Hutchinson said. "When we think about the quality of life, we typically think about the trees and the open space."

The question is: how will the city pay for the bond? The Wake County Taxpayers Association points to the "legalese" on the ballot. The fine print authorizes "the levy of taxes" to pay for the bond.

"We think with that kind of language on the ballot, it gives them clear sailing for a tax increase if that's what they choose to do," said Truman Newberry of the Wake County Taxpayers Association.

Supporters of the bond say that should not be a concern because city leaders agreed not to raise taxes. Councilmembers said that, even if approved, the bond will wait until the economy turns around. They said the wording on the ballot was recommended by the city's bond attorney.


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