State votes ‘yes’ to statewide amendment for state park funding
Published 1:49 am Wednesday, May 25, 2022
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
During the Primary Election on Tuesday, May 24, the state decided to pass an amendment that will benefit state parks throughout Alabama.
Amendment 1, as it appeared on the ballot, received a 76.78-percent “yes” vote during the Primary Election, as 565,632 of 736,668 voters were in favor of the proposed amendment.
The amendment read as follows:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, authorizing the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds of the State of Alabama of up to $85,000,000 for the purposes of the improvement, renovation, equipping, acquisition, provision, construction, and maintenance of Alabama state parks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation and Natural Recourses, and public historical sites and public historical parks under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Historical Commission.
The goal was to provide more funding for state parks, public historical sites and public historical parks.
Now that it has passed, it will authorize the state to borrow as much as $85 million for improvements and maintenance projects at Alabama state parks, along with historical sites and parks.
“The Alabama State Parks Amendment will be the only local or state amendment on the ballot statewide –– so it will appear as Amendment 1 at the very end of the ballot after all candidates are listed,” read an email from Alabama State Parks Division Director Greg Lein. “This amendment, if approved by those who vote in the upcoming primary, will provide a much-needed capital infusion to our Alabama State Parks System.”
Regarding where the money comes from to fund the bond, governments issue municipal bonds, which allow the money to be borrowed and repaid, plus interest, over a set period of time.
In this case, the $85 million in bonds will have to be repaid over a 20-year period.
Of the $85 million the amendment will allow the state to borrow, $80 million is expected to be used to improve, renovate, equip, acquire, provide, construct and maintain state parks under the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The remaining $5 million is expected to be used to improve, renovate, equip, acquire, provide, construct and maintain public historical sites and public historical parks under the Alabama Historical Commission; however, the Alabama Historical Commission will not be able to use any part of the borrowed money at the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury.
Any additional funds will be given to the Alabama Forestry Commission for it to improve, renovate, acquire, provide, construct, equip and maintain state forests.
Lauren Massey, park naturalist at Oak Mountain State Park, said the amendment will provide additional funds for the park to complete much-needed improvements to its amenities, such as the campgrounds, cabins, lodges, playgrounds and bath houses.
“We do not receive funding through the general state funds or through taxes,” Massey said. “State parks generate our own revenue, meaning money that comes into the parks is kept in the parks. With these extra funds, we can modernize our park system while preserving and protecting our historical and natural beauty. It (will) be an amazing next step in preserving and updating the few wild spaces left for people to enjoy.”