By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News
AUBURN, Ala. – Alabamians on Tuesday approved allowing the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to borrow $80 million to improve state parks.
According to unofficial results from the Alabama Secretary of State late Tuesday, 76.89% of voters said “yes” to the only statewide constitutional amendment on the ballot.
“I am very grateful to see that the overwhelming number of Alabamians feel as passionate about our state parks as I do,” Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, told Alabama Daily News. “We know the improved parks will ably serve our citizens and guests for decades to come.”
The money will be used to modernize the campgrounds, which will include projects like installing electrical outlets and WiFi connectivity, adding larger cabins at certain locations and upgrading water and sewer connections, according to Blankenship.
He said said the department wants to ensure that state parks are accessible to all Alabamians. They plan to use some of the funds to update playgrounds and restrooms and add more recreational activities at the parks in order to achieve this goal.
According to a fiscal note on the bill that put this amendment on the ballot, the bond issue will cost the General Fund about $6 million per year for 20 years.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has provided a list of proposed improvements here.
The amendment also allows for the department to borrow an additional $5 million to improve the state’s historical sites. The legislation specified that none of the money will be spent on the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury.
Blankenship said the department began Wednesday working with Alabama Finance Director Bill Poole to begin the bond sale process. There is no definitive timeline yet for starting on the improvements, but they are hoping to begin as quickly as possible.