Union voters Tuesday will weigh in on a sales tax proposal to fund a new city park and park operations.
The tax initiative will appear on the ballot as “Proposition Park” and will include a new one-half cent sales tax for the park. The tax would be reduced to a one-quarter cent sales tax after the bonds sold to fund the project mature, or after 20 years.
This is the only issue on the ballot Tuesday. There is one polling place, the Union Municipal Auditorium, and polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
City officials agreed to a request by a local veterans group to name the proposed park and sports complex “Veterans Memorial Park.”
There has been some criticism of the proposal, including some who have stated that the name was selected simply to attract voters. There also have been charges that there is only one polling place to limit voter turnout.
City officials have denied those accusations stating that the “Veterans Memorial Park” was a request by a group promoting veterans; and that the county requested one voting location to cut costs.
Union Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Arand said the tax is the best way to fund the project.
He explained that a funding source is required before the city would be eligible for grants for the park.
“It gives us a financial plan that grant organizations will accept,” he said. “We are serious about building a park, but we don’t have the financial plan — they are not going to give grants unless we show them how we can build this park.”
In April 2011, a proposed sales tax failed that would have funded the park and Union Parks and Recreation Department operations. The measure lost by 88 votes.
The city purchased 43.8 acres of land earmarked for a park off Progress Parkway south of Highway 50.
Planners have maintained the “balance” of active and passive recreation areas, including a “loop trail” intertwined with smaller trails.
Marshlands and water sources would be utilized as a conservation area, or “passive” park. There also will be picnic areas and shelters.
There also would be playgrounds, a maintenance shed, lakes or ponds, pavilions and other amenities.
Plans call for two soccer fields, a football field, and a large tournament baseball/softball field and four smaller fields.
SWT Design utilized requests and demographics to determine the city’s parks needs that could be met at the east park location.
Elected city officials, city staff, members of the east park development committee and Franklin County youth sports leaders submitted requests to SWT Design of what they would like to see included in the park.
The cost to construct the park is estimated at over $9 million, however, officials have said that figure is “inflated.”
East Park History
A group called the Franklin County Youth Sports Organization (FCYSO) was the initial driving force in the push for more sports fields to support the growing number of children who participate in baseball, softball, soccer and football.
The city purchased the land earmarked for a park, and the FCYSO later disbanded.
A city east park development committee formed, which included members of the FCYSO, sports organization heads and parks and recreation advisory board members.