Smyrna mayor calls for Cobb to fund park
by Nikki Wiley
July 16, 2013 12:04 AM | 2470 views | 10 10 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Max Bacon
Max Bacon
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SMYRNA — Mayor Max Bacon says it’s time for Cobb County to foot the bill for a public park in Smyrna because county residents are flocking to its parks and the city can’t keep up with demand.

Just 55 percent of those who participate in Smyrna-sponsored athletic programs, such as soccer and baseball, are city residents. The remaining 45 percent are county residents who do not pay Smyrna taxes that fund park maintenance and programs.

“I think it’s long overdue for the county to build something down here like a pool or some fields,” Bacon said.

County residents are charged a nominal non-resident fee, but Bacon says it doesn’t make up for the cost of maintaining fields.

“Every year it costs us more money to maintain (parks),” Bacon said.

The city operates about 20 parks and multiple athletic programs that bring county residents into Smyrna.

Eddie Cannon, parks services director of the Cobb County Parks and Recreation Department, says that’s because residents look for proximity when going to a park and quality of athletic programs. He’s certain that Smyrna-run parks are popular among county residents and praised the city’s athletic programming, but he says there are no plans to build new parks in Smyrna.

“We try not to duplicate any services that cities might provide,” Cannon said.

Cobb does operate parks in Marietta, Austell and Powder Springs, but Cannon said he couldn’t comment on decisions behind putting those parks inside cities because he was not working with the county at that time.

About $83 million in renovations funded by a special purpose local option sales tax is planned for county parks and Cannon said some of those are near Smyrna. Two parks lie just outside the city limits. Heritage Park is on the south side of the city off the East-West Connector that features a walking trail and about 14 acres of wetlands. Rhyne Park is off South Cobb Drive and contains playgrounds along with softball and tennis courts.

The closure of the Windy Hill Senior Center at 1885 Roswell St. SE near the intersection of Cobb Parkway has also put a strain on the city with nearby seniors now attending programs in Smyrna.

“It just puts another drain on our budget,” Bacon said adding he asked the county for use of the building.

But Cannon says the county is planning to re-open that center as the Windy Hill Community and Recreation Center to house therapeutic recreation programs for residents with special needs.

Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee says he’s open to talking about expanding parks services, but he doesn’t think a funding source will be available any time soon.

“Right now, funding is tight and starting a new parks project or program is on the back burner across the county,” Lee said.

Comments
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anonymous
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July 19, 2013
I usually staunchly defend Bacon, but when one gets a library card in Cobb County, they are told they can use it at every single library in the entire county EXCEPT for the Smyrna library, for which they must pay something like (used to be anyway) an $80 yearly fee. I could be wrong on that fee, but there IS a fee if you don't have a Smyrna address. That is double standard to me.
Mincing Pennies
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July 16, 2013
Bacon spoke plainly & simple but very rudely. What he said is ONLY wants homeowner taxpayers to use the parks. In other words people renting can go to heck, he sees no value in them, period!! To bad Mr. Mayor that's impossible. Unless you are Hitler you can't control citizens like cattle. And on top of all that blithering you also grumbled about the senior citizens using the one senior center left. Please Mr Bacon, quit hanging your laundry out for all to see (read about).
smurfer
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July 16, 2013
As a Smyrna resident, I am dismayed to learn that the Mayor and Council are using my tax dollars to support athletic participation in Smyrna Parks and Recreation programs by nonresidents. Clearly, they are getting the better deal and we are getting the shaft. What is the Mayor THINKING or is he? I think he and the council on voters an explanation as to why we should be supporting nonresidents?

SC Observer
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July 16, 2013
As far as soccer in Smyrna, that is run by the non-profit Smyrna Soccer Club. The city does not have staff involved in that program, plus they pay for the use of the park, far more than is charged to participants of programs based at the Smyrna Community Center.
anonymous
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July 19, 2013
I sometimes walk my dog in the Village Square,

Smurfer, and I do not live in the city of Smyrna. You make me feel now that I must wear a blue suit only fellow Smurfs like yourself can see, or a blue blaze is going to come out of the sky and strike me and my dog down. Or maybe the Smurfs will do me and my dog in somehow. Why don't ya'll just put up an iron fence around your city limits that only Smurfs can gain entry to? But, hey, if you do that, don't dare to go beyond the iron fence. I don't want you traveling or walking on county roads. Stay within your own Smurf iron fence. Oh, and if you go outside Smurfville, we can identify you by your blue suit and charge you accordingly for walking/driving on "our" turf.
Dumb and Dumber
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July 16, 2013
Smyrna's Mayor needs to stop whining about what nonresidents are costing the city when all the city has to do is charge them the cost of their participation. If nonresidents aren't paying their fair share to participate its not their fault, its the city's fault. Why would the city have been letting them participate at below cost in the first place...just dumb. As a county resident, I must say I find it more than a little amusing that the City of Smyrna's taxpayers are supporting nonresidents. If the Mayor and Council have no more sense than to permit freeloading, and the city taxpayers like footing the bill, well, just keep on doing what you're doing....
barney fife
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July 16, 2013
How dare Mayor Bacon even suggest such a thing! Seriously. These cities, under HB489, are all engaged in a land grab for revenue-producing pockets out of unincorporated portions of the Counties. It's all about money and power for them. But they want it both ways- they want the Counties to bail them out with the services the cities can't provide- like superior fire, police, parks, libraries, etc. You wanted cityhood- now fund it yourself! County employees haven't had a raise, had furloughs, vacant positions not filled, you name it. And Max Bacon wants the COunty to bankroll a park for him? Stuff it!
Just Wait
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July 16, 2013
If you don't want non-city residents using your parks, charge a huge fee for them. That will either stop them from coming or fund new parks. Don't expect the County to pay your way out of problems.
rjsnh
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July 16, 2013
There is a simple solution to the Mayor's complaint. Simply do the math. Charge nonresidents an appropriate fee to participate. Frankly, it is wrong to allow nonresidents to participate in activities that are fee based for a "nominal" fee because that means tax paying residents are subsidizing nonresidents. The city is under no obligation to provide financial support to nonresidents who wish to participate in the city's athletic programs. Frankly, their participation should be a moneymaker for the city, not a loss. And, keep in mind their are indirect costs associated with such programs as well that should be included in the cost. This isn't rocket science.
SC Observer
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July 16, 2013
The city of Smyrna does not run the soccer program that makes use of Jonquil and River Line parks. That program has been run independently by Smyrna Soccer Club for the past 25 years.

Currently Smyrna Soccer Club pays the city around $50,000 per year for use of those facilities. Parks used to be an amenity that cities provided to make living there more attractive, now they just view them as cost sinks or as a way to raise additional revenue.

If Max Bacon is complaining about non-residents using the parks, and by the way, it is mostly River Line Park that he is referring to, then why the heck did he and the city council locate that park in Mableton?

Why didn't they acquire the large property located centrally in Smyrna off of Reed Street or the one off of Campbell Road to place a park?

I'll tell you why. When you are a friend of Max you get to have you way. Max Bacon and his cronyism needs to leave Smyrna.

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