The Birmingham City Commission recently approved an opportunity to accept a Parks and Recreation Bond to advance the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The last bond issuance for park improvements occurred in 2008. With current bond debt expiring in fiscal years 2021 and 2024, there is an opportunity to secure a new bond and achieve the goals of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, if desired. Ballot language regarding the bond proposal will be placed on the November ballot.
Public Input Opportunities
Parks & Recreation Bond FAQ
Public Input Opportunities
On Tuesday, August 11 at 6:30 p.m., the Parks & Recreation Board will discuss the plan for educating the community about the Parks and Recreation Bond proposal on the November ballot. Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting via zoom and share their feedback. Learn how to participate in virtual City meetings at www.bhamgov.org/participate.
How did the Parks and Recreation Bond proposal come to be? What is the background?
Birmingham’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan 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 our community. Birmingham voters last approved bond funding for parks in 2001. Those bonds were issued in 2002 and 2008, for $16.1 million and $4 million, respectively, and will be fully retired in 2024.
Birmingham’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan is updated periodically, most recently in 2006, 2011 and 2018. The plan is updated using a comprehensive process that includes extensive public engagement, leading to a prioritized list of potential projects and estimated costs. In addition to community input, other criteria for project selection included: project readiness, facility conditions and staff recommendations. The potential project list covers improvements including but not limited to: numerous parks, the Birmingham Ice Arena, the Springdale Golf Course, trail system amenities, a new pickleball court and a new Splash Pad (location for both to be determined based on community input).
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 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 Commission approved putting the parks bond proposal before Birmingham voters on the November 3, 2020 ballot. The Commission approved a total bond amount of $11,250,000 which, if passed, could be issued in two series; the first in the amount of $4,750,000 in 2021 and the second series in the amount of $6,500,000 in 2024 as existing bond debt will be retired in these respective years.
What parks will this bond benefit?
The following parks are highlighted areas we anticipate this bond benefiting (among other various sites):
- Adams Park
- Booth Park
- Lincoln Well Park
- Pumphouse Park
- Linden Park
- Pembroke Park
- St. James Park
- Springdale Park
- Crestview Park
- Howarth Park
- Poppleton Park
- Kenning Park
Possible Other Parks & Recreation Projects:
- Ice arena building improvements
- Pickleball courts
- River Rouge Trail improvements
- Splash Pad
What is the estimated cost of the projects that would be financed by the bond issuance?
Why a bond issue?
Capital improvements, by definition, are large projects that extend over multiple years. The costs cannot usually be accommodated within a municipality’s annual budget, and bonding ensures a reliable funding stream over the years. Financing these parks and recreation capital projects through a bond issuance is comparable to a family acquiring a home through a mortgage.
The City of Birmingham presently enjoys the highest municipal credit rating available, ‘AAA,’ and a low overall debt burden. This enables the City to take advantage of very low interest rates and a favorable environment for borrowing.
How much will it cost the average homeowner?
For the average homeowner with a taxable property value of $250,000, the annual cost would be $51.60, averaged over the 21-year life of the bonds.
Will this cost taxpayers more?
No. Two existing bonds will be retired by 2024: a sewer bond will be retired in 2021 and the second round of the 2001 parks bond will be retired in 2024. Retiring those bonds will eliminate much of the City’s current debt burden, resulting in a net reduction in debt and a lower debt millage level when averaged over the 21-year period of the parks bond.
Which parks will be addressed first?
The proposed priorities for Phase I include the Adams Park development and Booth Park corner feature. Other potential parks and recreation projects that are included in Phase I include: improvements to the ice arena, new pickleball courts and River Rouge Trail Corridor improvements.
If the Parks and Recreation Bond proposal passes, when will the work begin?
It is anticipated some projects could begin as early as the spring of 2021.
Where would the pickleball court be located?
The location of the new pickleball courts is to be determined based on feedback from the community.
Where would the Splash Pad be located?
The location of the new Splash Pad is to be determined based on feedback from the community.
What improvements are planned for the Ice Arena?
The Ice Arena is 47 years old and, accordingly, is in need of upgrades and improvements to serve the many Birmingham residents, clubs, schools and teams that use the facility. The Parks and Recreation Bond funding would go directly toward facility, not mechanical, improvements. Planned improvements include new Team and Women’s locker rooms, ensuring ADA compliance, and adding a new meeting room for public use.
What do the bond funds cover?
It is anticipated the total $11,250,000 in bonded funds will finance improvements to numerous City parks, plus other improvements to the City’s trail system, playgrounds, the Birmingham Ice Arena, and Springdale Golf Course.
Are parks a good investment?
Yes. Well-maintained parks increase property values and the local tax base. A Texas A&M review of 25 studies on parks and property values found that in 20 of 25 studies property values were higher with a park nearby. Parks and recreation programs generate revenue directly from fees and provide significant indirect revenue from tournaments, events and festivals. Economic activity from hospitality expenditures – recreation equipment sales, fuel and tourism purchases – provide on-going, sustained value to local economies. Additionally, quality parks and recreation are cited as one of the top three reasons cited by businesses in making relocation decisions.