Voters pass $1.5 billion for local parks

Voters across America last night passed local and state ballot measures that will provide more than $1.5 billion for parks and conservation, The Trust for Public Land announced today.

Of 30 local park and open space measures on the ballot, 26 passed. Earlier in 2017, 11 local measures had been voted on, and 10 passed.

“In 2017, there were 41 local and state conservation measures and 36 passed, creating a total of more than $2 billion for local parks and open space,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land, the nation’s leading organization in creating local park measures.

“At a time when Americans seem to be increasingly divided, one thing we all agree on is that we love our parks, whatever our political party,” said Rogers.

“That passage rate of 88% in the past year isn’t surprising. It’s consistent with what we’ve seen for the past 30 years. In the last three decades, voters in nearly all 50 states have approved close to $100 billion for local parks and open space.”

“This is true for Republicans and Democrats alike,” Rogers said. “Whatever their politics, voters are willing to spend to create and protect local parks.”

For example:

  • In Monmouth County, N.J., voters passed 58-42 a property tax increase for parks, water quality, and farm land. The measure could create $280 million over the next 20 years. Last November, the county voted 53-47 for Donald Trump.
  • Pinellas County, Fla. voters gave 83-17 passage to a sales tax extension of the “Penny for Pinellas” program, which could provide $64 million for local parks, water quality, and trails. Pinellas is a classic “swing” county and went for Trump last year, 49-48.
  • Delaware County, Ohio, voters renewed by 63-37 a local tax for county parks, which will create $62 million over the next 10 years. The county went 56-44 for Trump last fall.
  • Dallas, Texas, voters overwhelmingly approved a $261 million park bond and a $50 million bond to improve Fair Park. The measures passed by 73-27 and 65-35, respectively. The area gave Hillary Clinton a 2-1 margin last year.
  • Also in Texas, Houston voters gave 75-25 approval to Proposition C, a $104 million park bond.
  • In Boise, Idaho, voters overwhelmingly passed a property tax levy for the Boise foothills and to protect clean water and open space. It won 83-17 approval, and was the second time in three years a measure was approved.

Local elected officials are agreeing with their voters and taking a stand for parks. Last month, 141 mayors from across the country committed to ensuring their residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk of home. Almost two dozen Republican mayors joined the campaign, including mayors like Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City, who leads a city Trump won last year.