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  • By Lisa Brody

Birmingham voters to decide parks bond

Birmingham voters will be asked to approve an $11.25 million parks and recreation bond on the November 3 general election ballot, which the city hopes to then use to improve Birmingham's trail system, playgrounds, the Birmingham Ice Arena, and Springdale Golf Course. Birmingham’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which was last updated in 2018, ensures that the city’s 26 parks, recreational facilities, playgrounds and two miles of Rouge River trails are well maintained and appropriately upgraded, enhancing the lives of city residents and the value of the community. Birmingham voters last approved bond funding for parks in 2001, with those bonds issued in 2002 and 2008, for $16.1 million and $4 million, respectively. They will be fully retired in 2024, leaving bonding room available, city manager Joe Valentine has pointed out. The estimated levy for the new bond is .0485 mills in 2021, for a period of not more than 21 years. It is to replace a retiring bond of .2064 mills. In November 2019, the parks and recreation board recommended proceeding with the bond project priority list. In January 2020, as part of the city’s annual long-range planning meeting, a parks bond discussion took place to consider options for funding much-needed improvements. At its regular meeting of July 20, 2020, the city commission approved putting the parks bond proposal before voters in November. The commission approved a total bond amount of $11.25 million which, if passed, could be issued in two series, Valentine said, “The first in the amount of $4.75 million in 2021 and the second series in the amount of $6.5 million in 2024 as existing bond debt will be retired in these respective years.” Approval of the bond will then necessitate a priority planning determination by the parks and recreation board, which has not yet taken place. At this point, the board anticipates using the bond funds for financing improvements to numerous city parks, plus other improvements to the city’s trail system, playgrounds, the Birmingham Ice Arena, and Springdale Golf Course. Possible amenities include a splash pad and pickleball court, locations to be determined. Birmingham parks which will benefit from the bond include: Adams Park, Booth Park, Lincoln Well Park, Pumphouse Park, Linden Park, Pembroke Park, St. James Park, Springdale Park, Crestview Park, Howarth Park, Poppleton Park and Kenning Park. Birmingham's Ice Arena is 47 years old and typically welcomes approximately 6,500 people each year. An estimated $3.1 million of the bond are slated for ice arena improvements, including locker room expansion and remodeling of the existing locker rooms; adding a female and team locker room; new observation area and meeting room space; and new concession area upgrades. Springdale Golf Course is in need of a new and improved irrigation system.

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