Sunday, November 16, 2008

Editorial: The Parks Bond

An editorial from the Marietta Daily Journal on Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cobb residents did an admirable job in the first step of the process of adding public greenspace for the county when they voted by an overwhelming 65.3 percent margin Nov. 4 to approve a $40 million parks referendum. The measure was approved in every precinct of the county.

Now comes the next step, that of nominating properties for potential parkland. The county will accept such nominations starting Monday and running through Jan. 31, which will be here before you know it.

"We want the public's input and we want them to nominate properties," Cobb Commission chairman Sam Olens said.

Should you know of an attractive piece of land that you think would make a nice park, especially if it is in a part of the county that is underserved by parks, you can obtain a nomination form at the county's Web site, www.cobbcounty.org, or by calling the Cobb Parks Department at (770) 528-6800. However, when nominating a property, it is helpful if you know whether it belongs to a willing potential seller. That's because the county will not be using its powers of eminent domain to obtain property with the proceeds from the parks bond.

After a property is nominated, the county staff will talk with the property's owner to get a description of its natural features and a better idea of its suitability for a park, according to county public services director Bob Ash.

Once the nomination deadline is passed, the county's 15-person citizens advisory committee will visit the most promising of the nominated properties, subject them to a rigorous analysis, rank them as to desirability and then make recommendations to the board of commissioners. (Each commissioner gets to nominate three members of the advisory committee.)

"This committee assignment takes a lot of time. They did a great job the first time, and I'm looking forward to working with them on this parks bond," Olens said.

County voters approved the first $40 million parks bond in 2006. It proved so popular, and was so well implemented, that persuading voters to approve another $40 million in November was an easy sell.

Park supporters would be wise to stick with what worked so well the first time: choosing parcels based on availability, attractiveness, price and the need for more parks in a given area. That method is the one most likely to net the county the best portfolio of new parks.

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