RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)–Raleigh and Wake County residents will be able to vote for three bond referendums in November that would impact the city’s parks, Wake County schools as well as Wake Tech Community College.
Each bond on the ballot would be a several million-dollar investment.
Wednesday night, the public was invited to attend a community meeting at John Chavis Memorial Park to learn more, ask questions, and express concerns.
“The community is really concerned about these things even though these times are hard right now,” said Dr. Lane, Chair of the Southeast Citizens Advisory Council. Lane expressed concerns of how inflation and the pandemic have impacted people- supporting a large bond, even a few dollars a month, may be difficult for some families. He added, “How are we going to get the attention that we need in the areas that need them, especially equitable areas and underserved areas?”
Voters can choose to support Wake Tech’s Workforce Forward $353.2 million bond that would support the community college’s growth and Wake County’s aging population. Wake Tech Community College President, Dr. Scott Ralls, said the bond would aid campus renovation costs and will particularly support a workforce in tech and healthcare.
Voters also had the opportunity to learn about a $530 million bond that would fund construction and renovation projects for Wake County schools. Wake County officials said the school system serves about 160,000 students and is one of the largest school systems in the country. Wake County school members said the Wake School Bond will help build new school buildings, upgrade safety and security measures, increase access to labs and technology and fund much needed air conditioning and heating replacements.
Wednesday evening, residents expressed many of those concerns toward a $275 million Parks Bond referendum. Co-Chair of the Parks Bond, Mitchell Silver, said, “Raleigh has a history of investing in parks. They’ve done it several times before but this one is the biggest one.” Silver said the bond supports 20 projects. The largest project will focus on John Chavis Memorial Park and the implementation of a new aquatic center. Silver said, “Through COVID, our parks became our sanctuaries of sanity. When everything was closed, everyone went to a park. It was our outdoor office, it was their gym, it’s where they went for events. But it’s where you go to get healthy. Studies show being in a park for 30 minutes reduces stress and anxiety.”
Some of the public’s concerns focused on the impact of increased taxes for families and why certain parks were chosen among the 200 existing parks in Raleigh. Silver said the average household would spend about $100 per year and $9 per month if the bond passes in November. Silver also stated that the projects were decided based on multiple factors including equity, access, new growth, and investment in underserved areas.
“Tonight’s discussion is really bringing the public together, helping them understand what the Parks Bond will do, that there’s 20 projects involved and that neighborhoods throughout our city- this will benefit everybody,” said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.