Councilors Agree on $91.7 Million Parks Bond

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Councilors Tuesday approved the placement of a parks bond totaling about $91.7 million, which would fund about one-third of the city’s proposed parks projects.

Voters could see the bond on the November ballot. Approving it means agreeing to a 1.72-cent tax increase to fund the proposed projects and associated operating costs.

There was little support, however, for the additional $2.8 million in funding that the Falls Whitewater Park would require.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Councilors Wayne Maiorano, Russ Stephenson, Eugene Weeks and Thomas Crowder all voted against adding the project to the bond.

Both Crowder and Weeks said their districts have number of older facilities that could benefit from an additional $2.8 million.

“What other aging facilities are we putting on the back burner to put this on?” Weeks said.

Stephenson wanted to include the additional funding, but asked that the project be reviewed and prioritized against others. In total, the city has $300 million in parks projects awaiting funding.

Other Councilors said they were in favor of the Falls Whitewater Park, but didn’t think there was enough information available to support it now.

“I could be supportive of it,” Maiorano said. “Just not right now.”

Raleigh Councilors approved designs for the whitewater park plan in 2011. This year, the park organization received federal 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

Raleigh Councilors approved designs for the whitewater park plan in 2011. This year, park supporters received federal 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

Crowder and Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin suggested increasing the bond amount to $105 million and $100 million, respectively, so that aging projects in each district could be funded. Neither request was approved.

Project List Could Change
While the crux of the debate was centered on funding for the whitewater park, Councilors only approved a dollar amount for the proposed bond, not a project list.

City staff compile a list of projects for which they think the funding should be used, but legally, the city can change the list at any time as long as they don’t exceed the amount approved by voters.

A public hearing will be held before Councilors officially approve placing the bond on the ballot.

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