Wayzata Voters Approve Big Woods Bond (MN)

Wayzata, MN 11/04/03- Wayzata voters have made their views regarding the Cenacle Big Woods property known: they want it protected and are willing to pay. Today, city voters approved a $3 million bond referendum to help fund protection of the Cenacle property. Together with private contributions, these funds will be used to purchase the forested portion of the Cenacle Property, place it in public ownership, and permanently protect it from development.

“It was a hard fought campaign,” said Susan Schmidt, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Minnesota Office. “But Wayzata voters have spoken: they want the Big Woods protected to preserve their quality of life now and for future generations.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) currently has an option to purchase the Cenacle property. Actual purchase is now only contingent on successful completion of a private fundraising effort.

The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Finance program worked with city officials in designing the bond measure and worked closely with the Friends of the Big Woods, a group of concerned citizens who spearheaded the protection effort and formed a committee to educate voters about the bond measure.

The referendum will mean a contribution of $81 per year for the owner of a house assessed at $250,000. According to the 2000 Census, the median home value in Wayzata is $281,700.

Wayzata joined 78 other communities in 17 states across the country in voting on new funds for land conservation. Today’s other key local votes included: Arapahoe County, CO ($170 million); Montgomery County, PA ($150 million); Ann Arbor, MI ($58 million); Boulder, CO ($51 million); Brevard County, FL ($50 million); Hudson County, NJ ($40 million); Huntington, NY ($30 million); San Antonio, TX ($27 million); and Carroll County, GA ($19 million). A statewide measure is also slated for New Jersey ($150 million) .

Last year, Dakota County voters overwhelmingly approved a $20 million bond measure for the preservation of farmland and natural areas.

Earlier in 2003, voters in 15 different states approved a total of 34 ballot measures for land conservation. In total, they raised $546 million for conservation-related purposes so far this year.

A complete list of results from local and state ballot measures on conservation and parks is available on-line at www.landvote.org, a partnership of the Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance. The results of Tuesday’s votes will also be published as a report in early 2004. Most of the measures tabulated by LandVote are property tax increases or general obligation bonds. Bonds are a way for communities to borrow money in order to save land now, while paying off the debt over the next 20 or 30 years. The dollar amounts of each measure are either the total amount of the bond, or in the case of a new tax, the total of the revenue created over the lifetime of the levy (usually 10 to 20 years). When a ballot measure contains no sunset provision, LandVote estimates its revenue total based on a 20-year duration.

“LandVote 2003” is available on the web at www.landvote.org

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, TPL is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for human enjoyment and well being. Visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org