Group suggests parks tax for GR – WOODTV

By Joe LaFurgey

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A group describing itself as a neighborhood coalition wants Grand Rapids property owners to pay for much-needed park improvements.  

Neighbors for Parks, Pools and Playgrounds — NP3 for short — presented its plan to Grand Rapids City Commissioners Tuesday.

“The Neighborhood for Grand Rapids Parks, Pools and Playgrounds believe that an additional $3.5 million to $4.5 million annually is the minimum level of investment,” NP3 Chair Mark Miller told city commissioners.

But when it came to how NP3 proposes the city raise those funds, it took Mayor George Heartwell to get Miller to say the “T” word.

“What would be the millage request that you are all proposing?” the mayor asked Miller, referring to the tax voters would have to approve.
Miller said he’s not sure. His group is still studying the size of a millage and how much it would cost the average Grand Rapids homeowner.
“I think over the course of the next month or so, we will wanting to be working with the city and figure that out,” Miller said.

Whatever the plan, NP3 wants to be able to fund the basics in the beginning. It would fix up the parks that have seen funding for maintenance cut year after year. The annual question of whether city pools will open would be answered. A millage would guarantee three of the six would operate.

Miller said park funding is an investment in the community, boosting the quality of life and home values in Grand Rapids neighborhoods.

“I think it’s probably a Chevy plan at this point in time. I think that one of the things is we have to start this reinvestment process,” Miller said.

City voters would make the ultimate decision over whether they want to pay more taxes to pay for parks. But the city commission would have to decide whether it should go on the ballot in the first place.

Heartwell said parks are like a lot of other services cut over the years.

“We say we’re going to have to deal with that someday — streets and parks and the like. I think there’s probably a political will to do something. I’m not sure exactly what,” Heartwell said.

While NP3 doesn’t have many details on what they’ll ask for, it does have a sort of timetable on when the question will be put before voters. They’re talking about putting the question on the ballot as early as November.

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