The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

March 4, 2013

Parks plan’s fate up to vote

Enid voters have an important decision to make today.

They will decide the fate of $50 million parks plan the city is touting as the Quality of Life Initiative.

There are a pair of ballot questions for voters that propose to raise funds to improve existing city parks; build two new neighborhood parks; build a new downtown park and a new community park; build 10 miles of new city trails; and establish a parks and recreation department.

One question would raise $20 million by increasing the city sales tax rate by one-half percent for five years, and the second ballot question would pay for $30 million in general obligation bonds by extending an existing 7 mill ad valorem tax for a term of 20 years.

The 7 mill ad valorem tax previously was enacted to fund city bridge improvements. The one-half percent increase in the sales tax rate would begin July 1 and would expire June 30, 2018.

The bond issue would pay for:

• A new community park, to be built at 30th and Randolph, which would include softball fields, soccer fields, football fields, outdoor basketball courts, playgrounds, a skate park, picnic shelters, restrooms and concession facilities, at a bond cost of $13.4 million.

• A new central park, to be located downtown. The city already owns the property for this park, which is located between Garriott on the south, Oklahoma on the north, Independence to the west and Grand on the east. The park would include green space, landscaping, and an amphitheater at its center, facing south toward the natural slope that comes down from Garriott toward downtown. The bond funding for this park is specified at $824,100.

• Improvements to all existing neighborhood parks, at a cost of $6.87 million.

The remaining $29 million in funding — $20 million in sales tax revenue and $9 million in unspecified bond funds — would cover any cost overruns in the bond projects, plus the following:

• Addition of 10 more miles of city trails, bringing the city’s trail system up to 13 miles of the total 30-mile master trail plan.

• Construction of a new neighborhood park on city property in the northwest part of the city, near Prairie View Elementary school.

• Construction of a new neighborhood park, on land that has not yet been identified, in the city’s northeast quarter.

• Addition of a water feature or water park at the 30th and Randolph community park.

This is an important issue, and we urge all eligible voters in Enid to cast a ballot.

Let your voices be heard.

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