Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

PARA Funding Approved by Tuscaloosa Not Yet Final

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

PARA Funding Approved by Tuscaloosa Not Yet Final

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | The Tuscaloosa City Council approved $15.4 million in park improvements last week, costs that are largely meant to be split between the city and the county, with the city paying the larger share.

But the City Council and Tuscaloosa County Commission have not come to an agreement. The city's list of projects include 4.8 million to improve and expand the facilities at Sokol Park and $5.4 million for Bowers Park, but it's not clear whether the county will approve the city's recommendation.

The County Commission is likely to discuss the PARA funding at its meeting Wednesday.

"I don't think we have the support on the county commission to move forward with that," said County Commissioner Jerry Tingle, who represents the eastern part of the county. "We are still in talks with them, but we are definitely not moving in that direction right now."

Commissioner Stan Acker said the commission needs time to look at what the city approved and compare it to a list of projects the county approved in May.

"I really don't have any comment right now," Acker said. "We'll continue evaluating what they've sent us, but it will take some time."

Under the city's proposal, it would pay $9.2 million and the county $6.1 million. Funding for the city's share would likely come from a municipal bond package.

For upgrades to Munny Sokol and Bowers parks, City Hall would fund 65 percent of the work to the county's 35 percent. This means city funds would make up $6.7 million worth of the work, while the county would be responsible for $3.6 million.

An additional $5 million worth of projects, including the replacement of a 43-year-old park operations maintenance facility and renovations to PARA's administrative offices downtown, would be split 50-50.

Included in this total is $750,000 worth of work to upgrade the greens and tees at Ol' Colony Golf Complex that both local governments have approved.

Also among the shared projects is a feasibility study to construct a multipurpose facility at the Jerry Belk Activity Center in Bowers Park that could host an array of indoor sporting tournaments, including basketball, wrestling and volleyball, at a cost of $3.8 million to $5 million. The feasibility study would examine whether the need for the facility is worth the cost.

Before presenting the plan to the Tuscaloosa City Council, the Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox met independently with most of the county commissioners.

"In my conversations, I believe everyone involved understands that Bowers and Sokol parks have served the entire community for decades. Thus, it deserves joint support from our respective governments," Maddox said.

"Together, the city and county constructed these parks, and together we must modernize them to meet the needs of the people we serve now and into the future."

The one commissioner who has yet to meet with Maddox, Bobby Miller, said he is open to a 65/35 percent split. …

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