Brownwood voters were asked if they want to see existing sales tax proceeds diverted to help fund a park and youth sports improvement plan, and voters answered overwhelmingly “yes” Saturday.
Voters approved three propositions (2, 3 and 4) that will collectively allow the use of about $6 million in municipal sales tax proceeds to help pay for the first two phases of a four-phase plan that also includes a new home for the senior citizens center.
Seventy percent of the voters approved Proposition 2; 67 percent approved Proposition 3; and 75 percent approved Proposition 4.
Voters’ approval of the propositions will not result in a tax increase because the sales taxes are already being collected, city and Brown-wood Economic Development Corp. officials have said.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Jerry Don Gleaton, president of the youth baseball Brownwood Freshman League. “Brownwood (is) a sports town. It’s an opportunity to get an extremely nice facility” for youth sports.
Phase I calls for the construction of a new swimming pool at an estimated cost of $2 million. It also calls for the renovation of the Coliseum Annex for use as an entertainment facility which will include use by the Senior Citizens at an estimated cost of $500,000.
Phase II calls for the construction of baseball/softball fields on a 67-acre tract, which will be donated to the city by the Brownwood Industrial Foundation and located just south of the existing baseball/softball facilities. The BIF has offered to donate the property to the city with the stipulation that it be used for park purposes. The estimated cost is $3.5 million.
The total cost of Phases I and II is actually $7 million, but members of the Parks Committee have said they’re confident the additional $1 million can be raised through grants, donations and in-kind work.
The funding voters approved Saturday does not address Phases III and IV of the project.
Phase III includes demolishing the existing baseball/softball fields and relocating the existing soccer fields to this location. Phase IV includes construction of a wellness center. Parks Committee Chairman Greg Dodds earlier asked Brownwood City Council members to adopt the total plan, with the final two phases to be completed as funds are available.
“I’m excited,” Dodds said Saturday night. “I think the citizens of Brownwood have made a statement that they’re ready to move forward, that they want to improve the quality of life.”
Dodds said he wasn’t surprised that voters approved the trio of propositions, noting that citizens group had earlier orchestrated improvements to Gordon Wood Stadium and Coggin Park.
“This is the next step,” Dodds said.
He said in-kind site work by the National Guard from Camp Bowie could begin in two or three months.
“Honestly, I think the hard work has just begun,” Dodds said. “It’s work that’s fun. We’ve got the voters behind us and the citizens have spoken.”