Vote YES! for Parks, Pools and Playgrounds
Learn more about the "Parks, Pools & Playgrounds Proposal" -Frequently Asked Questions
The Parks, Pools and Playgrounds Proposal will be on your Nov. 5, 2019 ballot. It will replace the 2013 parks millage when it expires next year and will provide $5 million per year, a modest increase. Our community has made significant gains over the past six years in addressing a massive backlog of repairs, keeping our neighborhood pools open and delivering on the promise of park improvements inspired by our community. However, there is still work to be done and we can’t afford to stop now.
Voting YES for the parks proposal will:
Provide stable funding to keep our parks and playgrounds maintained, updated and safe.
Keep all Grand Rapids pools and splash pads open every summer with staff and supplies to keep them safe and clean.
Continue capital improvements and rehabilitation for our 74 neighborhood and community parks.
Support additional, free recreational programming for children in Grand Rapids, giving them more opportunities to connect with community, nature, play and friends.
Leverage outside grants and funding for capital improvement projects.
The proposed rate of 1.25 mills will permanently replace the current millage when it expires. When it goes into effect, it will cost the average homeowner an estimated $68.75 per year, or about $5.73 per month. That’s only $1.38 per month more than the average homeowner pays today.
The old millage will expire next year and there would be no guaranteed funds for ongoing investment in the park system. It wasn’t long ago that we had inoperable drinking fountains, closed restrooms, broken slides, crumbling tennis courts and the constant threat of closed pools, and the millage has served as a solution to many of these challenges. As playgrounds, sports courts and other infrastructure age, there would be no dedicated funds for repairs and replacements, and we would have to abandon additional improvements planned for parks that have seen only an initial phase of improvements so far.
It was a huge success and, as promised, every park in the city received new investment. To date, the millage has generated over $20 million for park repairs, pool operations and park improvements. The City has also leveraged over 55 different public and private partnerships, including neighborhood associations, state agencies, family foundations and business associations to generate $16 million in additional grants and more than 20,000 volunteer hours. By the time the 2013 millage ends, it will have supported redevelopment projects, improved maintenance and necessary repairs in all of the City’s parks. The City has also tackled larger, signature projects that benefit the whole region, including the Huff Park Boardwalk and the Bike Park.
It is important to maintain the momentum of the parks millage by permanently renewing the millage at a rate where the City can provide ongoing, stable and reliable funding for parks for the long-term, and maintain these investments, operate our pools, provide recreational programming and continue to improve parks. Clean, safe places for everyone to relax and play are vital parts of our city. A permanent millage makes long-term planning for maintenance and improvements to those spaces far more efficient and economical. Beautiful parks are an important asset for a growing City economy.
Yes! Every neighborhood park in the City of Grand Rapids park system will see higher levels of maintenance, quicker repairs and better facilities.
Yes! To promote transparency and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, all millage dollars will be reported on a public website and go through an independent financial audit every year. The City Commission will approve policies for the administration of the parks millage consistent with those adopted in 2013 so that millage dollars stay dedicated to parks.
Spending will be guided by the City’s Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan, which was adopted in 2017. The plan provides a roadmap and strategy for improving the City’s park system to meet the needs and expectations of all Grand Rapids residents. The City will continue to work with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and community members to identify targets of opportunity and make recommendations to the Parks Advisory Board, which will be responsible for recommending a Parks and Recreation budget to the City Commission each year.
The local interpretation of state law is that all ballot proposals are required to disclose the authorities that are funded through captured funds from special millages. Only property taxes generated from within that authority’s boundaries get captured for that authority. This is not unique to this proposal and Yes GR Parks has no control over this. Nearly all of the funds collected through this millage will go directly to support parks, pools and playgrounds. Additionally, the largest tax capturing authority, the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, is committed to making investments in downtown parks with its tax capture so millage dollars can go further for non-downtown parks.