By Meris Lutz
February 4, 2016 in the Marietta Daily Journal
MARIETTA — The Parks and Recreation Department is hoping to streamline the process by which citizens can submit properties for review as potential greenspace if the county goes forward with the parks bond issuance approved by voters in 2008.
Parks Director Eddie Canon will present a proposal to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that would present residents with three options for submitting recommended properties, after his office began receiving calls in the wake of the board’s decision to take up the issue of greenspace once more.
“We are working as hard as we can to get this up and running,” Canon said. “We need to get the nomination process out to the public so it can be a lot easier.”
Between Feb. 9 and April 15, members of the public will be able to nominate properties using a form posted on the county website, or they may print it out and submit it by mail. They may also attend one of five public meetings about the parks bonds. Canon said he hopes to announce the dates of those meetings soon.
Canon is hoping the new nomination process will make it easier for the public and the Recreation Board, which has to research and select the properties. Once a list of suitable properties is compiled, it will be presented to the Board of Commissioners for approval at a yet-to-be-determined date. The board has not yet made a decision whether to issue the parks bonds.
“Sometimes people will just mail us a map that shows a piece of property on a corner, and we have to go in, figure it out, ask a bunch of questions, so we try to create these forms to help us have a lot more information so it’s a lot easier for us,” he said.
Other times, he said, residents just send in photographs of vacant lots.
The form asks submissions to include an address, acreage, property owner and, if possible, whether the owner is willing to sell.
Greenspace advocates have been putting pressure on the county to issue $40 million in parks bonds approved in a 2008 referendum but put on hold with the onset of the recession.
Last month, Chairman Tim Lee brought forward a motion charging the Recreation Board with revisiting the parks bond issue and compiling a list of potential properties. His motion passed unanimously, but all four commissioners said they hoped to find a way to fund the full $40 million after the county finance director said that due to the passage of time and the language of the referendum, the county would only be able to collect between $19 and $29 million.
Some critics have accused Lee of shifting millage revenue from the debt service fund to the general fund to pay for SunTrust Park stadium at the expense of greenspace. Lee has denied that he made a choice between the stadium and parks.
Tuesday’s BoC meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m.
Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Parks department to streamline process Citizens to have three options to nominate properties for review of potential greenspace