ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Mayor Francis Slay signed off Monday on a $64 million bond issue for parks, which he said would spruce up the city’s 106 parks after decades of deferred maintenance.
“These parks are important, not just as infrastructure, but as a quality of life piece,” Slay said after authorizing the measure in a ceremony at Forest Park’s Visitor and Education Center.
About half of the proceeds, $30 million, will be used exclusively on Forest Park. The move also allows the not-for-profit Forest Park Forever to collect on $43 million in private donations, many of which, organization president Leslie Hoffarth said, were made on the condition that the city make its contribution.
She said Forest Park Forever, which is in the middle of a $100 million fundraising drive, would also be taking on more responsibility for maintenance of the park.
“The first things people will see are signage, on the roads and the path system, and also ammenities to go along with the dual-path system that we installed earlier this year,” like restroom plazas and functioning drinking fountains.
She said many of the improvements will start to happen in 2013.
The bond issue passed the Board of Alderman about three weeks ago with only four legislators voting against, although the Comproller also expressed reservations about taking out the debt.
Slay said Monday that the bond issue would be paid for through the city’s dedicated parks tax. He added that it would prevent proceeds from that parks tax from being raided and used to plug holes in the general budget.
“It uses an existing stream of income that we already had for parks and made sure that we kept it in parks,” Slay explained. “And one of the things to keep in mind is that the bonds will be sold to Forest Park Forever.”