ALPH RETREAT

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta officials are floating the idea of a multi-million-dollar bond referendum that would help pay for major park improvements.

The proposal surfaced at a special work retreat Jan. 27 at the Hotel Avalon. During the meeting, which was not streamed online, City Council members reviewed a rough draft of a project list that included major upgrades to Wills Park, including the Equestrian Park.

Officials agreed a bond referendum would give them instant cash to address a multitude of projects that have been stacking up over the past several years. Not everyone could agree how much money the city should seek on a bond, but the list presented at the session suggested about $30 million in expenditures.

Alpharetta residents have a fairly solid history of paying extra for their parks.

Local voters passed a $52 million bond referendum in 2016 with just under half devoted to capital improvements and land acquisition for Alpharetta parks and recreation. They passed a $24.9 bond referendum in 1997, again with about half the money dedicated to parks.

Alpharetta voters also approved a $29 million bond in 2011 to help fund development of its downtown City Center multi-use project, which also includes park areas.

Discussion over a new parks bond is tied, at least in part, to the city’s efforts to extend the current county-wide transportation sales tax which expires next year. If the .75 percent sales tax is renewed, part of the new money could be used for pedestrian enhancements, like trail systems.

The current bond proposal discussed at the council retreat carries about a dozen initiatives. They include:

  • $5 million for Wills Park Equestrian build-out
  • $5 million for Wills Park Master Plan projects
  • $3.5 million for athletic field enhancements, such as LED lighting and replacing light poles
  • $2 million for Union Hill Park redevelopment with a Greenway trailhead
  • $5 million for general park land acquisition and along the Alpha Loop

Alpharetta Mayor Jim Gilvin said the project list is by no means settled, and he wants to hold a special council workshop in the coming weeks to hear other ideas, including whether the city should pursue a bond referendum in the fall.

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