Ask the City Council and Mayor to support the recommendations of Friends of the Parks at the August 19 vote on the Parkland Dedication ordinance.
There has been a great deal of community outreach on the part of our city in regards to the Ford Site. This is fantastic. However, we can attend forums, write letters, make phone calls, light candles, hold hands and sing songs, but in the end our zoning code and our parkland dedication ordinance are the only tools to achieve our shared community goals for a world-class development on that property. It is a privately-owned parcel.
As proposed, the Parkland Dedication ordinance up for a vote at the City Council on August 19 removes our very limited power we have as a community to ensure there is parkland and gives power to the developers. It does this in three ways:
1. Changes “shall dedicate” to “may dedicate” making it an option rather than a requirement.
2. Includes language that says if the developer and the City Council do not agree on land dedication, a fee will be paid instead. So, even if the city wants parkland, if the developer doesn’t want to give it, (and as shown in #1, a developer has the option to participate or not) the city is out of luck. (Plus, the use of “fee” rather than “parkland dedication cash-in-lieu fee” is ambivalent. What would the fee be? This is weak language.)
3. The amount received at platting is shifted to permitting when cash is paid rather than land is set aside. Therefore, if a developer doesn’t want to give land, the cash collected later would then be at a fraction of what the land value would have been (assuming the “fee” is actually the “parkland dedication cash-in-lieu fee”.) Look at it this way: If I am a CEO of a company, I would rather tell my shareholders that I agreed to pay 0.5% for our commercial development rather than dedicating 4% land. Why would a for-profit company agree to give land at a higher cost to them?
We have been repeatedly assured that there will be parkland as part of the Ford Development. Given the points above, how can we be sure? Its all fine and good for folks to say so, but in the end, its the law that matters.
If you agree that green space is an important building block of a community (kids that exercise and get fresh air do better in school; a park is a recreational opportunity for all, not just members of organized sports; healthier citizens mean happier neighbors and cut health care costs for employers and governments; parks clean our air and filter our water; parks cool the urban heat island; parks are habitat for pollinators and wildlife; studies show time and again that they are an economic investment that pay a 10-25% return; parks are a place to build community; etc.) then please contact the Mayor and City Council today. The vote is at 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon. Ask them to support the Friends of the Parks amendments that would make our Parkland Dedication ordinance more effective and put us on a level playing field with our neighbors. Go to the Get Involved and Current Events links at www.FriendsoftheParks.org for more information and sample letters.