October 2016

In last month’s message I provided information regarding one of the two referenda for you to consider on this year’s general election ballot on Nov. 8, which is the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax or TSPLOST.  As you may recall, the TSPLOST is designed to provide a funding mechanism to accelerate much needed congestion relief and other transportation related projects.
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 will also see on this November’s election ballot.
In response to your emails, phone calls, and community surveys, the City Council passed a 10-year Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan last March to better align with the community’s recreation needs.  We acted on available opportunities to increase parkland over the past two years and ultimately doubled in size to over 300 acres.  We’ve also placed a special focus on working on 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.  As a result, I am very excited about the potential and our ability to better serve all residents across all generations.
The city is still growing and with so much potential on the horizon, we want to ensure that we remain ahead of the curve by providing 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. 
From adding and refurbishing playground equipment, linking and adding trails, upgrading and adding athletic fields, to overall better addressing the needs of our diverse and multi-generational community, you have a lot of great options to consider.
Not only will new and improved parks enhance our quality of life, but improvements and expansion of parks and recreation opportunities are also known to increase property values.  The City Council remains intent on keeping pace with our growing community’s strong desire for increased and improved outdoor activities across the city. 
With a 10-year Recreation and Parks Strategic Master Plan already in place, you may be asking, so 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 does not pass, we still intend to address the proposed options in the 10-year strategic plan as best we can over the course of a decade, but these will also compete with transportation, public safety, and other capital priorities from year-to-year.
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to 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.
As always, please feel free to contact me direct with any questions or concerns 678-451-3313.