At Issue: Should Cobb pay for Braves stadium before buying park land?

Representatives of the Cobb Parks Coalition have appealed to the Cobb County Board of Commissioners at every meeting for many months to fully fund the $40 million 2008 parks bond approved by 65 percent of the voters.

However, after being told the funds would not be available to buy the park land because of the Great Recession and a tax increase, county officials say only $20 million will be available to buy park land.

Many of those public speakers at the commissioners’ meetings have wondered why the full amount could not be made available through the debt service fund, requiring no tax increase, since the commissioners were able to fund nearly $400 million for the Atlanta Braves to move to Cobb.

The county would need to buy 8,000 acres of park land to meet its Cobb Comprehensive Plan 2030 goal and attempt to meet the national standard of 10 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. Many residents said they want the property tax approved for Park Bond 2008 to be used first before transferring funds for the 30-year Braves stadium bond.

Commission Chairman Tim Lee has said a tax increase would now be needed to pay for the $40 million Park Bond 2008.

Lee, who is facing a runoff on July 26 with retired Mike Boyce for chairman, has reorganized a citizens committee to review and recommend available parkland with an October deadline.

Again, parks advocates have requested this process be streamlined by buying the properties already approved for purchase eight years ago before they are lost to developers. To date, there has been no response from the commissioners.

Should the Park Bond 2008 referendum be honored with full funding of the $40 million? Or should the Braves funding come first with maybe half or no funding for additional parks in Cobb? Send your comments to communitynews@ajc.com.

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