Ten years ago, there was no Browns Mills Aquatics Center and Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve was non-existent.
Commissioner Lee May said the parks bond “has really been a definite bonus for DeKalb County.
“It has allowed us to acquire more park space to limit the amount of development,” May said. “It protected some of the assets of our greenspace.”
Without the park bond, the county would have “some real voids in terms of recreational activities,” May said. “We would not have Arabia Mountain Park, which is just a beautiful asset. It would not be a national heritage area.”
Instead of parks and recreation centers, there “we would have possibly had a lot of development in those areas,” May said. “You would see a lot of trees cut down and asphalt put down.”
May said there is a lesson the county needs to learn in how it implemented the parks bond projects.
“We used the funds to acquire greenspace and to build park facilities,” May said. “What we didn’t do is allocate appropriate amount of funding for operations and maintenance.”
In 2001, a voter-approved parks bond went to into effect that has allowed the county to divide nearly $40 million between the county’s seven districts. Of that amount, $2.68 million have not been allocated to a project.
Some of the projects the money has paid for include Henderson Park, Dunwoody Nature Center, Mason Mill Park, Exchange Park, Brook Run Park, and the continuing Wade Walker Recreation center project. Several other projects are under way or are in the planning stages.
Commissioner Elaine Boyer said a highlight in her district is the walking trails in the Smokerise community.
Before the trails were developed, “we had nowhere to go,” Boyer said. “We had to get in our cars and drive over to Stone Mountain Park, but now we can walk around on the trails.”
Because of the park bonds, “there’s a little more for people to do,” Boyer said. “A few key parks have really been improved. But we still lack. In my district we could still use more.”
Boyer said she is pleased with how well the implementation of the park bond projects has gone.
“Overall people got implemented what they were promised,” Boyer said. “I haven’t really seen any waste.