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Booth Park off of Old Woodward in Birmingham.  (Photo: JOHN HEIDER | hometownlife.com)

It’s been nearly 20 years since the last parks and recreation bond was approved by Birmingham voters.

After all this time, the city is going back to voters this fall to ask for more than $11 million to make improvements to its 26 city parks and other recreational facilities.

The proposal would allow the city to issue bonds to pay for park improvements over the next few decades. The ballot language calls for $11.25 million to be taken out in bonds to pay for the improvements, with $4.75 million being taken out in 2021 and $6.5 million being taken out in 2024. Spacing those bonds out will allow for older debt to be retired before the city takes on the new debt, officials said.

The bond, if approved, will see residents whose property is worth about $250,000 pay about $51 a year in taxes to pay off the bonds. The estimated millage levy for the first year is expected to be 0.0485 mills and the estimated simple average annual millage rate required to retire the bonds is 0.2064 mills, according to the ballot language.

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Plenty of improvements are planned if the bond passes to the city’s parks and recreational facilities, including work on Adams Park, which would be the first project completed under the bond proposal, as a site plan and construction estimates have already been established. Booth Park could also be one of the first projects with work as drawings are in the conceptual phase.

Some other projects that would be included are:

  • the addition of a pickleball court at a park in the city
  • improvements to the city-owned ice arena, including locker room expansion and renovations, the addition of a woman’s and teams locker rooms, new observation area and concession upgrades
  • a new splash pad at a park in the city
  • a new irrigation system at Springdale Golf Course

The proposal was discussed during a recent parks and recreation board meeting, where residents were encouraged to submit questions regarding the proposal.

Parks and Recreation Board Chairwoman Heather Carmona said during the meeting it was important to remember planned improvements at places such as the ice arena were expected to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It’s an important thing people need to know,” she said. 

Last on the ballot

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Booth Park off of Old Woodward in Birmingham.  (Photo: JOHN HEIDER | hometownlife.com)

One of the biggest things residents need to remember, said AnnMarie Erickson of Van Dyke Horn, a public relations firm working with the city, is to make sure they look at the entire ballot, since it is longer and extends onto the opposite side.

“Flip it over, because the parks and recreation proposal is the very last thing on the ballot,” she said. “If you don’t flip it over and go to the end, you might miss your opportunity to vote on it.”

When it comes to exact details, such as locations of where new entities such as the pickleball courts could be located, Erickson said that would be determined with residents’ input at a later date if the proposal is approved. Pickleball has become a popular game across the region, with several area cities adding courts as options for those looking to play.

Receiving such feedback, Erickson said, is critical to determine the size and location of such courts.

“That includes perhaps the most important question here: location. And location will determine how many courts the city will be able to construct,” she said. “The current estimate is about six courts.”

A complete breakdown of planned expenditures under the proposal can be found on the city’s website at bhamgov.org/parksbond.

Contact reporter David Veselenak at [email protected] or 734-678-6728. Follow him on Twitter @davidveselenak.

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