By Stephen Yaros, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 25, 2012
It's expensive to operate 157 parks and facilities on more than 2,088 acres of land.
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In order to continue financing the city's recreation facilities, Ann Arbor voters will decide whether to approve Proposal A, a $5 millon per year park millage, which would renew a similar millage passed in 2006. If approved, the millage would span another six years.
Without the renewal, a number of recreation facilities and parks will close, according to Colin Smith, the service manager for the Parks and Recreation Department for the city of Ann Arbor.
Smith said more than $5 million in reductions will be required from the annual park budget beginning with the fiscal year 2014 budget, which commences on July 1, 2013. This accounts for approximately 45 percent of the operations, maintenance and capital improvements budget for the park system.
Between 60 percent and 80 percent of the annual millage funds are allocated for city park maintenance activities, such as natural area preservation, park security and recreation facility maintenance, according the City of Ann Arbor.
Another 20 to 40 percent of the millage funds support city park capital improvements, including historic preservation, recreation facilities and park equipment acquisitions.
Smith said in the past six years, the park millage has supported numerous projects, including renovations of the Gallup Park canoe livery, reconstruction of the disc golf course at Mary Beth Doyle Park and development of the Swift Run off-leash dog park.
Smith also indicated that the renewal of the millage will provide for the initiation of new projects, which could include trail improvements at the Leslie Science and Nature Center, tennis court replacements at Windemere Park and baseball and softball field renovations at Veteran’s Memorial Park.
The path toward renewal began on June 19 when the Parks Advisory Commission — which suggests policies and provides advice on park development — unanimously passed its recommendation for the millage.
On Aug. 9, the recommendation went before Ann Arbor City Council, which unanimously voted to place the millage renewal on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Aside from PAC and the Ann Arbor City Council, Friends of the Park is a committee organized in support of the millage renewal, and there are no known committees opposed to the measure.