Wilmington Parks Bond wins easily at the polls

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parks-bond-map
Map of proposed projects included in the 2016 Parks Bond.

WILMINGTON – Registered Wilmington voters passed the first major funding referendum to improve the city’s parks and recreation facilities since 2006.

With nearly all of New Hanover County Precincts reporting at 10:45 p.m., the bond bill, which only mattered for the City of Wilmington, had a commanding 63 to 37 percent lead in the polls.

The bond will begin to address Wilmington’s low level of green space per citizen. The city has 191 square feet of green space per person, even less than New York City’s 200 square feet.

The bond, along with other planned construction funds, will provide two-thirds of a total $61 million dollar plan to overhaul the city’s green space over the next five to seven years.

“We are thrilled that Wilmington residents have decided to invest in the city parks that will bring joys, happiness and revenue to our area for decades to come,” said Beau Gunn, a member of the Parks Bond Steering Committee. (Beau Gunn is also a vice president for Local Voice Media, owner of Port City Daily, The Penguin FM and The Dude FM.)

The largest project in the approved bond is the $20 million North Waterfront Park Site Development, a six-and-a-half acre public space, including a performance area and outdoor structures (Here’s the city’s master plan for the park).

The next largest item is $10 million in expansion and improvements to the city’s soccer and other athletic fields.

Passing the bond also approves the second phase of the Olsen Park expansion. The park, which is a collaborative effort of New Hanover County and Wilmington, is located outside city limits, in the Murrayville area.

(Find a full list of projects green-lit by the bond’s success.)

The City of Wilmington will repay the bond by raising taxes on Wilmington property, by 2.1¢ per $100 of property value (e.g., the city estimates $3.50 a month, or $42 a year, in increases for a property valued at $200,000). The tax increase will last for the 20-year repayment period. Wilmington’s property management companies may increase rental rates accordingly, though renters won’t be directly taxed.

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