To avoid the current controversy on parkland funding mixed in with Braves stadium funding, the solution is clear for the Board of Commissioners: Fully fund the $40 million Park Bond as voters approved before moving that money into the Braves stadium financing.
Commissioner Lee's communication director Kellie Brownlow noted in her recent comments on the Field of Schemes article "Cobb County spent all its money on Braves stadium, doesn't have enough left for public parks" that the overall property tax rate in Cobb County has been lowered by .5 millage points. Many Cobb Parks Coalition members note that even just a portion of that tax decrease could easily pay for the entire 2008 Park Bond and solve the funding problem.
Here are key facts on Park Bond 2008:
- On the Cobb County Braves FAQ page, it clearly states the Braves stadium financing is using the property tax rates of the issued Park Bonds from 1996, 2007 and 2008. As we know, Park Bond 2008 has not been issued. According to Cobb’s own documents, the Park Bond tax rates are planned to “be shifted” and “those monies will then be used to pay for bonds to finance SunTrust Park construction.” (http://cobbcounty.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2713&Itemid=698)
- Not 1 acre of parkland has been purchased in nearly a decade. Why has $40 million Park Bond 2008 has not been spent?
Why Park Bond 2008 funding is so critical now:
- Over half of the 29 properties selected for purchase with the Park Bond 2008 funds by the Cobb County Citizen Advisory Committee have already been bulldozed by developers. Many other properties chosen as parkland are under threat of development now, such as the 46-acre Bells Ferry property in North Cobb, the 23-acre Furr property in South Cobb, and the 54-acre Tritt property in East Cobb, among other ideal properties.
- The MDJ published a wonderful editorial in January 2016 about Cobb's need for more greenspace, and Cobb's stated goal in the 2030 Plan is to save at least 10.5% of county land as greenspace. Currently Cobb has less than 7% saved, and the county would need to purchase more than 8,000 acres to achieve this 10.5% greenspace goal. To put that in perspective, Park Bond 2006 saved nearly 400 acres and Park Bond 2008 could save about 350 acres. Due to the increasing cost of land, the sooner Park Bond 2008 is spent, the more acres of parkland we can save.
- For these reasons, Cobb Parks Coalition members and many other park supporters have spoken at every Board of Commissioner meeting since November 2015 asking the Board to fully fund the 2008 Park Bond before moving that money into the Braves stadium financing. During the past year, over 1,000 emails have been sent about funding Park Bond 2008 to the Commissioners.
We look forward to the Board of Commissioners fully funding the $40 million Park Bond 2008 as voters approved before reallocating those funds into any other project.