By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
BOC to revisit park plan
Proposal deemed too ambitious
Placeholder Image

A consultant hired to review the parks situation in Dawson County has been directed to come back with a list of realistic projects.

The initial proposal, presented last week to the county commission, recommended acquiring land for new parks and updating existing ones.

Proposed improvements ranged from more soccer fields, playgrounds and pavilions to a new recreation center, community center and "sprayground" water feature.

County commissioners didn't disagree with the amenities, but had concerns about how to pay for them in the sluggish economy.

"When I look at the requirements in terms of money, you can't argue with the argument based on these standards that these things would be great things to have," said County Commissioner Gary Pichon.

Consultant Bob Betz presented the commission with a proposal to update the Dawson County Park and Recreation five-year master plan based on industry standards, public input and a projected population of 23,947 by 2016.

According to Betz, the county's current plan for parks and recreation, adopted in 2005, is outdated and includes elements no longer relevant.

Proposed funding sources for the projects included revenue from an anticipated extension of the 1-cent sales tax, a possible bond referendum and/or dedicating 1 mill in property tax for recreation capital improvements.

The last idea drew questions from the commission.

"You talked about other communities using a mill or a part of a mill. When they implemented that, did they pull what they were taking out of general fund and use that or did they raise taxes?" Commissioner James Swafford asked.

Betz said a neighboring county is considering dedicating a mill or a portion of a mill to be split among capital projects and operations.

"Park and rec will not have 1-cent funds to work with until 2016, and ... aside from a bond referendum, there are no other sources that will get any of these recommendations done by the year 2016," Betz said.

The net five-year program cost would be $5.6 million, with $27.5 million to be completed post 2016.

Pichon said he appreciated the work that went into the proposed master plan update, but cautioned against misleading the public "to what is possible."

"The income in our county, it looks like it's going to continue to go down. We'll be lucky to hold where we are in 2013," he said.

"For me, I'd like to see a one-page priority list of the basic changes, additions you'd like to do in some sort of ranking over the next couple years."

The commission will continue discussion of the proposed 2011-16 systemwide recreation master plan update at its meeting Thursday. The session is set for 6 p.m. in the G.L. Pete Gilleland Chamber at city hall.