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Cornelius News

Town contemplates $20 million parks bond referendum

May 9. By Dave Yochum. The Town of Cornelius has begun the process of putting a $20 million Park Bonds Referendum before voters in November. Members of the Town Board unanimously approved a “resolution directing publication of notice of intent” to apply to the Local Government Commission (LGC) for a General Obligation Bond Referendum.

The first step state statutes require is publication of the notice of intention to apply to the LGC for approval of the bonds to be put on the ballot—so this process is in the earliest stages.

The proposed bonds would pay the capital costs of the acquisition, renovation and construction of parks as well as greenways, paths, trails and open space for active and passive use.

Speaking at the Lake Norman Chamber’s “Focus Friday” event two weeks ago, Cornelius Parks Director Troy Fitzsimmons said the town has about 450 acres of parkland, or 14 acres per thousand but the goal is 750 acres, equal to about 18 acres per thousand.

The referendum would help achieve that.

No specific projects have been selected yet for new parks or park improvements as part of the potential referendum, but aspirations in the Parks master plan include Neighborhood Parks in Village Center, Northeast Cornelius and Southeast Cornelius.


7 Responses to “Town contemplates $20 million parks bond referendum”

  1. So…No projects have been selected but our elected officials would like us to authorize $20 Million for a slush fund. That way they can do what they want with little oversight. Unless more details are forthcoming I will be voting NO

    Posted by Chris Conroy | May 9, 2024, 12:12 pm
  2. Dear Editor,
    I vehemently oppose the proposed $20 million parks bond referendum in Cornelius. This bond is a thinly veiled attempt to raise our taxes without providing specific details or accountability for how the funds will be used. We are already burdened with paying for the massive road work required by the town’s rapid growth over the past decade.
    Handing the town a $20 million blank check for vaguely defined “acquisition, renovation and construction of parks” is an irresponsible use of taxpayer money. Before even considering such a massive bond, the town must present a clear, detailed plan outlining the specific projects, costs, timelines, and tangible benefits to the community. Asking residents to approve $20 million without this critical information and a clear explanation of how we will pay for it is unacceptable.
    Moreover, we cannot ignore the inevitable tax increase that would result from taking on such a substantial debt. In these economically challenging times, many families are already struggling with rising costs of living. Burdening hardworking citizens with higher property taxes to fund the mayor’s pet projects, like free pickleball courts, is tone-deaf and unfair.
    Instead of relying on taxpayer-funded bonds, the town should explore alternative funding sources, such as public-private partnerships or corporate sponsorships, to finance desired park improvements. This would alleviate the financial burden on residents while still allowing for responsible development.
    Do you remember the “fiscal cliff” our leaders warned about last year when they had to raise taxes? If we keep driving fast towards unchecked spending, we will keep running into these cliffs. A bond is a loan that requires repayment with interest, necessitating a guaranteed revenue stream – in this case, higher taxes.
    Mark my words, if you agree to this $20 million bond, the next generation of elected officials (not this group, as they’ll be gone, thinking they’re geniuses for building greenways and pickleball courts) will say, “We need more taxes to pay for the responsibilities of the town we didn’t authorize but need to honor our commitment to keep a good rating.” A good rating for what? Future bonds? Ugh! Now do you see how this works? They’re giving us a song and dance with a pickleball and greenway smile.
    Until the town can present a transparent, fiscally responsible plan that minimizes the impact on taxpayers, I urge my fellow citizens to reject this $20 million parks bond referendum. Let’s prioritize accountability, affordability, and practical solutions over unchecked spending and tax hikes.

    In short Chris Conroy hit the nail on the head.

    Posted by Joe a vagnone | May 9, 2024, 12:51 pm
  3. I’m all for parks, but with all the apartments, townhomes going in on West Catawba, how about using a bond to put the overhead powerlines & storm water drainage underground, so we can plant street trees and have a safer road. Big difference coming from Birkdale to coming down West Catawba.

    Posted by Lynn Lannquist | May 9, 2024, 3:10 pm
  4. I already have three parks within a mile or two from my house. Never do I get up wishing there was yet another park to choose from? And coincidently, I visit the Ramsey Creek Park regularly, and while it is great to see people enjoying the great outdoors, my guess is that very few of the visitors are Cornelius residents.

    In my budget, the 20M would go to roads!!! I do get up wondering which road will be the less congested way to run my errands. Why bother with parks when the roads are so congested you can’t get to them.

    Posted by Michael | May 9, 2024, 5:57 pm
  5. Have to agree with the other comments. I am a big fan of Cornelius’ parks and greenways, but I’m a NO vote unless there’s some concrete plan for the money. And on top of that, I don’t think there’s much land left in Cornelius for building another park – at least land that’s not under other development (or soon will be). Of course, maybe that acreage across from Bailey Road Park might be a possibility?

    Posted by Stevie | May 10, 2024, 10:31 pm
  6. It’s great to see so many people passionate about Parks/Rec, which always ranks amongst the top 3 citizen priorities. Any bond passage doesn’t equate to immediate debt service. An approved referendum is only the opportunity to invest, projects approval and the sell of bonds are still needed. As the article clearly states, this is step one and a comprehensive Parks Master Plan will lay out the details and targeted projects. The blank check comment is irresponsible as Parks/Rec held multiple listening sessions and meetings over the past 6-8 months to prioritize citizen requests, provide details, and discuss county, regional, and state partnerships. Once citizens see the forthcoming details, they can vote yes/no for the bond package. This board is extremely fiscally conservative and correctly advocated for no tax increase for Cornelius this year, while our surrounding towns imposed substantial increases. Please make an effort to get involved and seek clarification. BTW, Ramsey Creek and Jetton Park are county parks and not considered town assets.

    Posted by Todd Sansbury-Town Commissioner | May 12, 2024, 8:26 am

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