Letter: Vote Yes for Area Parks

Letter: Vote Yes for Area Parks

As Connection readers know, the upcoming election is a pivotal one. What readers may not be aware of is that a park bond referendum question is on the ballot for Fairfax County residents. I'm writing to ask readers to vote YES for the 2012 park bond.

The Fairfax County Park Authority's operating budget is almost 60 percent funded by revenue generating park activities. The remaining 40 percent is covered by appropriations from the County's General Fund derived from taxpayer contributions. This total contribution to parks amounts to less than 1 percent of the entire County operating budget. However, the operating funds do not include capital improvements such as renovations, new facilities, land acquisitions and the like. The funds for those endeavors are primarily funded through general obligation bonds. These types of bonds require the approval of the County constituency. This is just one of the bond questions on this year's ballot.

I know in our troubled economy some will argue that taking on debt is not a smart decision. However, I would argue that right now is the best time to embark on projects this bond will fund. Fairfax County maintains their debt payments at 10 percent or below tax revenue. The current bond request is projected to remain below that limit. With the current economic climate, purchases and construction costs are significantly lower so the funds can stretch further. Fairfax County's outstanding credit rating also enables it to obtain lower interest rates. Please visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/2012bond.htm for more detailed information about projects funded by the bond and more about the bond process.

I live in a neighborhood near the recently completed section of Pohick Stream Valley Trail in Burke. This project was paid for with park bond funds and I am so pleased with the results. Living in the suburbs outside the beltway, it is rare that you can easily walk or bike to shopping centers or commuter hubs. I can now easily and beautifully do both. Fairfax is such a family friendly and great place to live primarily because of its dedication to green, historic, and recreational spaces. My hope is the County continues to add more of these gems throughout the region with your help on Nov. 6. Please remember to vote YES for our parks.

Beth Gamble