Monday, November 10, 2008

Parks Win the Election!

The votes are in and Parks are in the winner’s circle in Fairfax County. On the ballot on November 4th in addition to the Presidential, Senate and Congressional races was a bond referendum on Parks. This bond will provide $66 Million to the Fairfax County Park Authority, and $12 Million to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to buy land, equipment, and development of park amenities over the next four years.

County-wide the three winners were:

345,978 Votes for Mark Warner of Senate (68%)
333,882 Votes for the Park Bond (68%)
310,359 Votes for Barack Obama (59%)

Fairfax County makes up portions of the 8th, 10th and 11th Congressional Districts. Jim Moran retained his seat in the 8th, Frank Wolf won reelection in the 10th, and Gerry Connolly won election in the open 11th District seat.

The high level of support for the park bond confirms the high value the public places on parks. Having open areas to reconnect with nature is critical to our quality of life.

Economically parks are also important. In Fairfax County Tourism makes brings in $1.9 Billion annually and parks play a large role in supporting tourism. Particularly destination parks like those of the Regional Park Authority are designed to draw people from a wide area. Campgrounds like those at Pohick Bay and Bull Run Regional Parks both offer a service to the local population as well as help support tourism. Parks like the W&OD Trail and the Bull Run Special Events Center and Festival of Lights attract hundreds of thousands (or millions in the case of the W&OD) from throughout the region and beyond. Jean Packard who serves on the Regional Park Authority Board representing Fairfax County address the connection between supporting park bonds and the health of the local economy. Her quote is in the bond endorsement published by the Fairfax Times Newspapers below.

Park bonds go to a vote
Fairfax CountyBy StaffSource: Fairfax County TimesWEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1 2008
Like everyone else searching for money, these are nervous days for park officials in Fairfax County.
On Nov. 4, county voters will be asked to weigh in on nearly $80 million in park bonds. This year's slate includes $65 million for the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) and $12 million for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA).
Fairfax County Park Authority, which operates 24,000 acres of parkland, proposes to invest the capital as follows: 30 percent for renovations, 30 percent for park development, 22 percent for land acquisition and 18 percent for stewardship.
The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, which oversees 8,000 acres in Fairfax, would spend:
38 percent on new facilities/renovations, 30 percent for capital maintenance projects, 21 percent for equipment and 11 percent for land acquisition.
Former Fairfax County board chair Jean Packard, now a member of the NVRPA board, said the soft economy shouldn't be used as an excuse to shortchange parks.
"I have seen investments in parks contribute to the overall health of the community in times of recession before," said Packard. "With home values down, we need to vote for the park bonds to help improve our communities. With the bond, we can stimulate the economy, and without it the condition of our parks will start to decline, bringing down real estate values even more."