We Recommend a ‘yes' Vote on Dallas Proposition B for Parks, Trails, Rec Centers and Aquatics

Parks are among a city's strongest answer to that nagging question of "What are you doing for me, the taxpayer?"Green spaces and what comes with them — trails, rec centers, playgrounds and aquatics — pack a powerful one-two punch: They boost our health as well as our tax base.That's why we recommend a "yes" vote on the city of Dallas Proposition B, which would allocate $261.8 million for parks and recreation improvements. Thanks to a smart 2014 amendment to the city charter, each of this year's bond propositions will include the estimated repayment, including interest; for this prop, that comes to $355.6 million.Before we say more about parks, remember this: If approved, paying off this bond will not require a tax-rate increase, according to city staff calculations. It has been 11 years since City Hall has put a parks-related bond in front of voters. This one places high priority on neighborhood green spaces, with a big percentage of funds going into spots throughout Dallas.A nearby park not only increases the chances that residents exercise and promote outdoor activities for their children; these gathering spots also build community.Beyond the obvious — we should want every resident to have easy access to a pleasant green space — better parks also grow better neighborhoods. You can see the proof in the housing renaissance ignited after investments in Oak Cliff's Kidd Springs Park and East Dallas' Tietze and Exall parks.The parks across Dallas provide a 7-to-1 return on public investment, according to a 2016 study by the city and several partners, including Trust for Public Land. Yet that same study showed that our green spaces have been left in the dust compared with those of 19 peer cities: We have tumbled toward the bottom of that list in terms of per-resident parks spending.The parks bond is designed to rehabilitate parks in need and provide new spaces where growth is on the march.In addition to funding neighborhood parks and those larger projects that draw patrons citywide, Prop B provides a chance for the city to gain access to millions in promised match donations to fund additional amenities for residents. None of these "matching funds" bonds will be sold until a project partner has anted up its share.Among two worthy projects that already have their money in the bank are Parks for Downtown Dallas, which is focused on green spaces in the city's core, and The Loop urban trail network.Downtown Dallas has developed its own bona fide residential neighborhood, so parks amid the concrete of the central city are needed more than ever. Without the effort spearheaded by Robert W. Decherd, the former chairman and chief executive of this newspaper's parent company, downtown green-space momentum would be woefully stalled.The Loop trail is of consequence to far more than hard-pedaling bikers. It will link neighborhoods citywide to transportation hubs and economic centers, supporting both residents who enjoy an afternoon excursion and those who need a safe route to work.It's hard to put a price tag on fresh air and the neighborhood oases in which to enjoy it. The city's responsible bond spending for parks deserves your vote.Ready to vote?This is a roundup of Dallas Morning News recommendations for the Nov. 7 elections.Early voting starts: Oct. 23 Early voting ends: Nov. 3 Election Day: Nov. 7For more information: Collin County: 1-800-687-8546 co.collin.tx.us/elections Dallas County: 214-819-6300 dallascountyvotes.orgDenton County: 940-349-3200 votedenton.comKaufman County: 972-932-0298 kaufmancounty.org/electionsTarrant County: 817-831-8683 access.tarrantcounty.com/en/elections.htmlFor more help, including how to check your registration status, contact the Texas secretary of state at 1-800-252-8683 or visit votetexas.gov.What's your view?Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.  Continue reading...

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