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Referenda for City Parks

Milwaukee park

Milwaukee park

A few big cities are trying to pass large bond measures to fund parks and recreation capital costs (acquisition, development and/or improvements) and we’ll watch for what happens on election day. Charlotte/Mecklenburg County has a $250 bond for parks up for consideration. Columbus, Ohio has a $124 million referendum. Seattle, Washington one for $145 million. And Long Beach, Calif., Corpus Christi and Greensboro, N.C. are also looking at them.

In Milwaukee, a question about how much money should go to parks will go to voters, who will decide on whether they want to fund parks, transit and some property tax relief in Milwaukee County through an additional 1% sales tax. Milwaukee currently spends $49 per resident on its parks, well below the $91 dollar average of the nation’s 75 largest cities. And this dedicated funding stream would bring it up a bit in the rankings. A local group, the Quality of Life Alliance has a website with more information on the effort. (We’ll come back after the election and let everyone know what happened, and we’ll also do a review of other cities using the sales tax for parks.)

Those interested in an extensive list of municipalities and other levels of government with voter referendums for parks and conservation can do so through TPL’s Conservation Finance program’s www.landvote.org.

3 Responses

  1. I thought some of the readers might like to see the advert that we developed for Seattle. We’re pretty proud of it and is a fairly simple ad to produce and deliver:

  2. This is great. Can you provide any data or sources for data on how city parks rejuvenate downtown regions and/or work as ‘magnets’ for attracting visitors? Thanks.

  3. Good luck with your campaign in Seattle. There are a couple of sources for revitalizing downtowns. John Crompton has done some related research.
    Here’s a list of his articles:

    As for specific examples – you might look to Campus Martius in Detroit, which has helped spur investment. Also, Mayor Bill White in Houston has touted numbers showing that Discovery Green, a new downtown park, has spurred investment in the area. (We’ll be doing some posts on this issue, so keep your eyes peeled.) You could also look to our “economics” category for links and articles.

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