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Save the Parks and Cultural Alliance February 6, 2007

Posted by cbuchanan in Uncategorized.

I’m sure most of you are already aware of what’s going on, but just in case, here’s the scoop from the MySpace page of Friends of Red Mountain Park:

(begin quote)
Yesterday’s Birmingham News reported that Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins has called for a review of all previous commission commitments and is specifically threatening to revoke allocations to Red Mountain Park, Railroad Reservation Park and the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham. Collins, along with newly elected commissioners Jim Carns and Bobby Humphryes—not to be confused with former Alabama footballer and Friend of RMP Bobby Humphrey—stated that “capital needs were neglected in favor of parks and non-profit organizations” by the Larry Langford-led commission which they have succeeded.

(From Charles: Humphryes is the commissioner, you will recall, who spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to redecorate his offices because he felt they were too “girly.” Capital needs, indeed.)

Regardless of the politics behind this message or the validity of RMP’s signed contract with the commission, we should weigh this news very seriously and use it as a call to action. The commission’s $7.5 million pledge to the park represents the bedrock of our financing and an official “thumbs-up” that has helped open the doors of corporate sponsors and position the project for federal grants. Current fund proposals suggest that the JeffCo money could be matched 3:1 by the end of this process—undercutting any notion that is a burden solely on the commissions’ shoulders.

So, what can we do? The commission needs to hear from its constituents that RMP is vitally important to this county, not just as a public interest project but in real terms. Here are some financial projections from ConsultEcon’s Tom Martin given at the last public forum:

-RMP would bring approximately $29.4 million to the local economy annually
-RMP would generate $1 million in tax revenue for state, county and local entities annually
-RMP would create 452 jobs in the community, park itself and supporting industries

(From Charles: And that doesn’t even take into account the Railroad Reservation Park, which already has a condo development or three ready to break ground nearby. It’s funny that while the commission is debating cutting funding for green space and cultural amenities, the chamber of commerce is saying that such things bring jobs, new employers, visitors, new residents, increased tax revenues, positive attention, and progress!)

If you have the time, a personal letter or email to the commissioners would be a great way to let them know that RMP would not only provide a wonderful greenspace in the midst of our cities, but would also be a tangible asset and worthwhile investment for the county. You can find contact information here or below:

Jefferson County Commission
Jefferson County Courthouse
716 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd North
Birmingham, AL 35203

Bettye Fine Collins – President
Commissioner of Finance and General Services

Jim Carns
Commissioner of Environmental Services

Bobby Humphryes
Commissioner of Roads and Transportation

Larry Langford
Commissioner of Health and Human Services

Shelia Smoot
Commissioner of Information Technology

Currently, we don’t know how the commission will formalize this budget review process and if there will be any chance for public participation. That is one question we plan to ask. In the meantime, thanks in advance for any efforts you can muster in this campaign and let’s hope the commission can be swayed to think more sensibly about RMP’s genuine worth to all of us.
(end quote)

I’m actually worried about Red Mountain Park’s survival if the commission cuts the funds. The park has already seen its federal funds cut. And without the Cultural Alliance, who knows what will happen to some of the smaller or edgier organizations/events around here.

I just sent an e-mail to all the commissioners, and I hope you will too. I was very happy to see the al.com forums light up in indignation over Collins’s mistaken idea. It’s good to know we aren’t alone—that people want these parks and cultural amenities and are willing to say something about it. Hopefully we can change Collins’s mind.



1. susannah - February 8, 2007

Just sent my e-mail.

Deeply disturbed. But we’ll see.

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