Questions raised about low parks and recreations funding in Tuscaloosa

Questions raised about low parks and recreations funding in Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa parks and recreation. (Source: WBRC video)

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa ranks near the bottom of the list with respect to funding parks and recreation in our state.

Each person living in Tuscaloosa County pays about $36 towards our Parks and Recs program better known as PARA but Executive Director Gary Minor said if that amount doubled, they'd not just be operating to keep things afloat but can fix maintenance issues and possibly even upgrade some of their facilities.

Our local parks are a part of our communities but when funding is lower than most to support them what happens?

"Our parents want to be proud of the parks our children play on and they bring other people too. People are going to stop coming to Tuscaloosa when you're a young family looking for somewhere to live somewhere to move, you're looking for opportunities for your family," said Lou Marino concerned citizen.

Lou Marino has been involved in youth soccer for 17 years and hears about communities like Auburn that is smaller than Tuscaloosa paying more than triple towards their parks and recs system and wonders why more isn't being invested here.

"You can't have events without facilities, you can't make the money unless you're willing to spend the money.  Only one of these fields is lighted and it looks great and PARA is always able to do the bare minimum and they do the best they can, but the money is not there to take the next step," said Marino.

"Some years some cities give more and some years they give less," said Minor.

PARA's director Gary Minor said Tuscaloosa, Northport and Tuscaloosa County decide how much money PARA gets and they have nothing steady to count on as their budget.

"Extremely important that we find a way to fund our parks adequately," said Minor.

Minor said because they're a countywide organization they don't have to duplicate services like having multiple directors, which saves money. But he said they do hope local elected officials can work to find a permanent solution for funding.

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