January 19, 2017
Cobb commissioners unanimously approved the new/old park bonds for $24.7 million, plus additional millions in fees and interest, however much that will be. New Chairman Mike Boyce said this is the only tax increase he will approve so the county can honor the 2008 park referendum approved by voters.
For those celebrating, what we are told will be the permanent addition of new green space to the county, I offer four points for your consideration.
First, at public meetings Cobb officials encouraged the “nomination” of properties for consideration by staff, whether the property owners happened to want to sell their land or not. I assume commissioners will use the hammer of eminent domain against any recalcitrant property owners who do not wish to part with their land for the public good. Anyone owning anything should think about this power of government to seize private property.
Second, I hope that speculators who bought land during the building boom will not succeed in unloading on the county economically worthless properties, such as flood plains, as has happened in the past. And I hope county staff and commissioners will not choose such properties for parks while bypassing authentic wilderness areas for future commercial and residential development with the intent of increasing economic development and the county tax base.
Third, I hope any new parks will actually remain parks and green space, that forests will not be bulldozed to make way for parking lots, tennis courts and baseball fields. If that happened, we would not have the acquisition of green space but only more of what Cobb already has in abundance.
Fourth, this project should give pause about the millions of dollars the school system spends for ball fields, stadiums and performing arts centers. This money is supposed to be earmarked for education, not sports. Now we are stuck with, “The recently completed (performing arts) center, part of a nearly $20 million dollar project at the school which also includes a new gym and upgrades to athletic facilities ...” There is $20 million for school athletics facilities and a glorified meeting room, which have nothing to do with academics, while the commissioners fret over raising not much more than that for permanent parks everyone can enjoy?
It may be too soon to celebrate the green space bonds and the honor and wisdom of government.