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Opinion: SPLOST VIII would fund vital greenspace in Hall
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A picnic pavilion at Laurel Park is pictured Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. - photo by Scott Rogers

During the community survey process for Hall County’s recently completed parks plan, the county’s lead consultant, Mack Cain, educated attendees that great communities have a balance of “gray infrastructure and green infrastructure.” The importance of this balance is clearly recognized and addressed in the next round of the one penny sales tax, or SPLOST, which is now under a referendum vote in our community.    

It’s easy for us to appreciate the “gray” infrastructure as we drive on it, park on it or benefit from good sewer and utility systems.

However, our green infrastructure is just as important — and facts speak for themselves. To assist and complement our gray infrastructure, greenspace filters our air and protects our soil from erosion by absorbing excess rainfall.  In fact, the extensive damage from floods in Houston over these last few years was due, in part, to “paving over” greenspace that formerly acted as a sponge. Greenspace is a critical part of infrastructure.

Greenspace is also good for the economy.  Property values increase for land located near greenways, parks or trails.  Studies show that every dollar invested by Georgia in land conservation returns five dollars in economic value from natural goods and services.

Finally, greenspace is healthy space, adding to quality of life where families can walk, run and stroll. It increases the restorative benefits of being outdoors, enjoying beautiful vistas and just breathing fresh air.

In fact, 92% of Georgians agree that protecting our water and land is critical to the economy.  Locally, the result of our own community survey process lists trail enhancements like the Highlands to Islands trail and more parks as our highest priority for the future in Hall County.

I applaud and support the SPLOST VIII plans that include an allocation to improve our greenspace inventory in our community.  It is critical to staying in balance with our overall growth in the region and keeping greater Hall County as a wonderful place to live, work and enjoy.

Let’s keep a good thing going!  Vote yes for SPLOST — for yourself, your family, your grandkids and the next generation.

Tony Herdener

Chairman of the Vision 2030 greenspace committee

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