24 October 2016
While traffic is consistently the number one issue residents have raised over the years, the need for more parks and recreation opportunities has remained a close second, and we intend to provide another option to address this issue through a proposed parks bond, which you’ll also see on November’s election ballot.
This year, the City Council passed a 10-year Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan to better align with the community’s recreation needs. We acted on available opportunities to increase parkland, which resulted in our doubling in size to over 300 acres. We’re also focusing on working on the proposed parks designs of our five recent land purchases for the community and City Council to review and provide input and direction.
Three separate design firms have created a range of options, from passive to active parks, with an outdoor sports complex proposed to serve the northeast part of the city. We want to ensure that we provide recreation amenities that families, millennials and senior adults of all abilities both need and expect.
To that end, we also propose to refurbish all four existing parks (Shakerag, Ocee, Newtown and Autrey Mill Nature Preserve). Additionally, the strategic plan recognizes the desire to grow our walking and multi-use trails and to refurbish the old Rogers Bridge across the Chattahoochee River to a pedestrian and biking trail that links to an existing park in Gwinnett County. Proposed plans also include an option to construct an indoor recreation center of 40,000 square feet.
Not only will new-and-improved parks enhance our quality of life, but improvement and expansion of parks and recreation opportunities are also known to increase property values.
With a 10-year Recreation and Parks Strategic Master Plan already in place, you may be asking, “Why the parks bond?” If passed, the parks bond will raise up to approximately $40 million that will be used as a dedicated funding mechanism to accelerate the build-out of new parks and the refurbishment of existing parks over a 5-year timeline. It also provides available funds to purchase additional land whenever it becomes available.
If the bond doesn’t pass, we still intend to address the proposed options in the 10-year strategic plan as best we can, but these options will also compete with transportation, public safety and other capital priorities from year to year.
Please review all of the proposed recreation and parks plans posted on the City’s website so that you have the information you need to either vote “yes” to accelerate the projects, or decide to remain on a longer timeline.