Board endorses parks, pollution proposition
After hearing the pros and cons, Nevada County supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to endorse Proposition 40 – the Safe Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air Initiative that will appear on the March 5 ballot.
Endorsement of the $2.6 billion bond initiative was requested by South Yuba River Citizens League.
Passage of Proposition 40 would provide funding for local park and recreation projects to help maintain and enhance the quality of life in Nevada County, said SYRCL board member Roger Hicks.
If approved, Proposition 40 will bring: $1.2 million to Nevada County; $220,000 each to Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee; and $220,000 to each of the county’s three park and recreation districts, Hicks said.
“This is a bond that has wide support throughout the state,” he said.
Hicks said improving local parks and recreation is a “way to reduce crime and give our children safe alternatives.” Park and recreation projects funded by Proposition 40, Hicks said, would strengthen the local economy and create new jobs.
The funds could also be used to improve the quality of drinking water and protect the county’s rivers, streams and lakes from pollution, he said.
Tuesday’s endorsement, however, didn’t come without opposition.
The California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners is opposed to Proposition 40, executive director Margaret Urke said.
Urke said the so-called “safe water and park” bonds would be used to acquire more private property to keep it from being developed.
Urke said CABPRO also opposes the initiative because there’s no mention of public access in the initiative’s language.
CABPRO can’t support this measure without assurance that taxpayers paying for these bonds will be able to use the lands acquired with public funds, Urke said.
Urke said CABPRO is not convinced that so much money is needed so soon after the Proposition 12 bond initiative for parks and clean water was passed in 2000.
“I don’t understand the opposition to parks you seem to be taking,” said Supervisor Peter Van Zant.
“We’re not opposed to parks,” Urke said. “We’re opposed to taking more land out of development.”
“The California Farm Bureau has taken the position opposing this kind of additional spending,” said Chicago Park resident Chris Bierwagen, who called the $2.6 billion bond initiative a “bureaucratic boondoggle.”
People in opposition to Proposition 40 are a very small group and don’t represent the majority of the agriculture and business communities, said Shawn Garvey, chief executive officer of the Sierra Fund.
With California’s economy faltering and lawmakers facing a projected $14 billion budget deficit, Supervisor Sue Horne said now is not the time to heap more debt on the state.
“I support parks and recreation, but the timing is questionable,” Horne said.
She said the state already has a $42 billion bond debt for which taxpayers are paying $2.6 billion a year to retire.
If Proposition 40 passes, it will cost taxpayers nearly $5 billion by the time the bond is paid off in 25 years, Horne said.
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