Brookhaven city officials are recommending nearly $40 million in parks projects to be paid for by a proposed parks bond referendum. The City Council is set to vote July 24 on whether or not to put the referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The project list includes spending more than $10 million at Lynwood Park, which city officials say has “been neglected for decades,” and another nearly $7 million at Murphey Candler Park because it is the city’s largest and most used park, including the location for many recreational children’s sports leagues.
The parks and their recommended totals to be spent:
Ashford Park — $2,207,421
Blackburn Park — $812,500
Briarwood Park — $7,013,100
Brookhaven Park — $7,807,393
Lynwood Park — $10,757,643
Murphey Candler Park — $6,913,125
Systemwide (for security, maintenance and invasive plant removal, among other things) — $3,470,000
Total — $39,955,711
City officials say a $40 million parks bond would not result in a net tax increase for residents.
Members of Parks and Recreation Coalition Brookhaven were asked to submit on July 9 a project lists at the $30 million, $40 million and $50 million levels.
PARC members and staff then agreed parks projects totaling $26.5 million to complete Ashford, Briarwood and Brookhaven parks and another $2.1 million for Murphey Candler Park. City administrators then added another $13.5 million, including the $10 million for Lynwood Park and additional money for Blackburn and Murphey Candler parks.
“Lynwood Park is a historically underserved community and has received very little capital funding investment in decades,” said City Manager Christian Sigman in a press release.
“Murphey Candler Park is the city’s largest and most utilized recreational asset and needs significant capital improvements. The administration also included high priority investments in Blackburn Park,” he added.
Mayor John Ernst thanked PARC for its work and said he also appreciated the additions from the city manager and staff “to ensure the greatest number of stakeholders are adequately served,” he said in a press release.
PARC chair Sue Binkert said in an interview the volunteer organization is not taking a position on the parks bond but will rather serve as a resource to residents wanting more information.
“That was our original intent all along,” she said of the volunteer organization’s neutral stance. “These are considerations for the council. It is up to the elected officials to make the final decision if we do have a referendum and what is in it.
“The taxpayer will need to be informed,” she added.
City officials say that general obligation bonds are needed to pay for the nearly $80 million in parks projects residents have decided on during past master planning processes. If the parks bond is approved by the City Council and then by voters in November, the city would then be able to raise funds through the sale of bonds to cover parks capital projects.
A general obligation bond is a long-term borrowing option that pledges the city’s full faith and credit, or taxing power, to repay the debt. The parks bond debt, if approved, would be paid off over a 25 to 30-year period.
If the council approves the ballot question on July 24, and if the voters approve the referendum in November, projects could get underway by next summer.
If the referendum is not approved, there is no other funding source identified that could pay for these capital projects, so these would not be constructed in the foreseeable future, said city spokesperson Burke Brennan.
This is Brookhaven’s first attempt at a bond referendum in its nearly 6-year history. In June, the City Council approved issuing up to $15 million in revenue bonds for construction of the Peachtree Creek Greenway. The revenue bonds are expected to be paid for with hotel-motel taxes.
To review all the documentation, including the proposed parks budgets, visit https://www.brookhavenga.gov/parksrec/page/parks-and-recreation-future-funding
To provide feedback, email ParksFeedback@BrookhavenGA.gov.