Remember that $34 million parks bond New Hanover County voters passed back in 2006? Well, 3 years later, some residents who voted yes to the bond are wondering what happened to the money and why their parks are still in such bad condition. We get some answers in this week's Troubleshooters Report. It is not hard to see why people who live in Monterey Heights would like to see their neighborhood park get a little TLC. "There's absolutely nothing for children to do here. There's no swing set, there's no shelter, there are lights, but it's kind of dimly lit, so it's just not a very attractive place," said Mark Triplett. That is why Mark Triplett voted for the Parks and Recreation bond in 2006. It allocated $18 million for improvements to parks in unincorporated areas of New Hanover County. Since the bond passed, some parks have seen big upgrades. For example, Veterans Park saw $2.5 million worth of improvements for a new lighting system for the soccer field, a nature trail, tennis courts, and more. But Monterey Heights park is still a bit of an eyesore. "I just wanted to make sure this park didn't get overlooked," Triplett said. WWAY spoke to county officials who assure us that $250,000 of the bond money is still slated for upgrades to Monterey Heights Park, but things are not moving along quite as quickly as they had hoped. New Hanover County Public Information Officer, Mark Boyer said, "Because of the economy, the big problem is once the bonds are sold we have to pay them back, and voters realize when bonds are sold their taxes usually go up." While voters gave county commissioners the go ahead to sell $18 million worth of bonds, commissioners have decided to go slow, and have only sold $6 million worth so far. Of that, commissioners still have about $1 million cash on hand, and plan to use some of it to improve Monterey Heights Park this summer. "Those smaller parks, like Monterey Heights, Arrowood, Parkwood, those have not been forgotten. Those plans will continue as they were originally presented to those neighborhood residents,” added Boyer. The bottom line, there's still about $12 million in bonds that the county commissioners are not even trying to issue until the economy starts to turn around. This is good news for voters who were worried the parks money was being spent to plug other holes in the budget. It is actually strictly prohibited to use bond money for anything except it's approved purpose.
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