Cobb greenspace advocates celebrated the county’s decision Tuesday to issue $24.7 million in bonds to buy park land, but vowed to press for more.
The sum, which comes with an estimated .13 increase to the millage rate, is the amount that can be legally collected, based on a 2008 referendum. Back then, voters approved $40 million for greenspace.
Those bonds were never issued due to the downturn in the economy. Many Cobb residents now want the county to honor that vote by spending $40 million on parks and expressed concern because last year tax money was diverted to fund the new Braves stadium.
Speaking ahead of the vote at his first board meeting, chairman Mike Boyce reminded spectators that issuing park bonds was a central pillar of his campaign platform.
“What I hope is that we made an important first step,” Boyce said. “My commitment to you is that we’re going to be working ahead over the next few years to find the remaining amount to equal the $40 million.”
He emphasized, however, that he would not raise taxes to fund that amount without seeking input from voters.
The motion passed unanimously. An identical proposal failed last year, 3-2.
Jennifer Burke, an organizer of the Cobb Parks Coalition, praised Tuesday’s vote as a start.
“We feel confident that they can do the right thing by the voters,” Burke said.
“We know the money is there because it was shifted into another project,” she added, referring to the ballpark. She urged the county to make parks funding a priority.
Carol Brown of Canton Road Neighbors echoed the need for more funds in an email to the board.
“Many properties will be lost because there are not enough funds to acquire them,” Brown wrote. “Again, thank you for your vote today — unfortunately it is the bare minimum that could be done and it is long overdue.”
Brown called on the county to release the complete list of park properties vetted last year by a citizen committee and handed over to the county.
Concerned Citizens of East Cobb sent out a memo Tuesday also describing the vote as a “first step.” The group announced it is moving forward with the establishment of Friends of Tritt Park, a non-profit that supports the creation a park on a 54-acre tract on Roswell Road that belongs to Wylene Tritt.
The county has 90 days to finalize the list of properties it intends to purchase and issue bonds.