Parks Bond Headed for Nov. Ballot

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Raleigh residents will have an opportunity to vote on a parks bond this November, but the fate of a north Raleigh whitewater park remains uncertain.

Raleigh City Councilors Tuesday approved putting the bond referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot, which will fund about $91.8 million in projects and improvements to the city’s park system.

Few people spoke during Tuesday’s public hearing. Those who did were in favor of the bond, but also in favor of using the funding for the area’s first whitewater park.

Raleigh Councilors approved designs for the whitewater park plan in 2011. This year, park supporters 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.

Similar parks already exist in Charlotte and in the western part of the state, and supporters say the park would be a boon for north Raleigh and provide avid kayakers a local place to go.

Raleigh resident and former kayak instructor Justin Scranton said he would love to teach his children to kayak, but his family doesn’t have the time or financial resources to travel to the mountains.

He added that a dam-controlled river is preferred because it’s predictable in its water level, quality and release schedule.

Councilor Asks for Funding
Councilor John Odom continued to support the funding of the whitewater park in North Raleigh, which is in his district.

Last month after an intense discussion, Councilors voted against placing the project on the proposed list of those to be funded by the bond.

The city has about $300 million in parks department projects awaiting funding.

Parks Bond Scenario 1

While city officials agreed on a list of projects slated for bond funding, that list could change at any time as projects are reprioritized.

The initial investment to build the whitewater park is $3.6 million, with about $500,000 in design and permitting costs. Parks staff have not nailed down the annual operating costs.

Odom asked that staff continue to find money to fund the project and then move forward with the design and permitting process because it would likely take a few years.

Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin said the park would create an economic development impact and favored setting the money aside so, “We don’t find ourselves five years from now still talking about it.”

Crowder has said previously he thinks more funding should be allocated to updating and renovating some of the city’s aging park buildings and was uncomfortable allocating money before knowing the full financial impact.

“I think we need to look at the whole salami and not get just a slice of it,” he said.

Parks staff will bring back more financial information as well as more details as to when the park will be used during the year.

One thought on “Parks Bond Headed for Nov. Ballot

  1. A correction that the estimated cost of Falls Whitewater Park is $2.8million. While some design costs are still needed, a great deal of hydrology modeling and design work has already been accomplished by professional designers McLaughlin Whitewater Group. http://mclaughlinwhitewater.com/projects/neuse-river/
    Thank you for the article!
    –Larry Ausley, Vice President, Falls Whitewater Park Committee, Inc.