Though the City of Westfield’s Grand Junction Park and Plaza funding plan could cost up to $35 million, the city is stressing its residents won’t see an impact on their taxes.
The city proposed the funding plan at the Feb. 11 Westfield City Council meeting. Dollars would come first from Local Income Tax until Tax increment Financing takes over. However, since there will be no payments until the bond is fully financed – which make take up to three to five years – the city said LIT dollars may not even be used.
“The bond anticipation note has Local Income Tax (LIT) pledged as a revenue source but there are no payments until the bond is permanently financed in three to five years,” the city’s financial strategist Tammy Havard wrote in an email to Current. “In three to five years, we expect that the TIF will be able to pay the debt. The city would only use LIT if the TIF dollars alone cannot pay the debt.”
Havard wrote that conservative growth projections anticipate the city will only use TIF dollars and not the LIT dollars.
And although the city plans to pay $35 million over 25 years for the Grand Junction Park and Plaza, Havard wrote that it won’t pull revenue from other operations.
“Growth in revenue, whether it is TIF or LIT, will cover the debt service payments. Given we are not receiving the additional revenue dollars now, nothing is taken away from existing operations,” she wrote.
There are four TIF districts which will help fund the Grand Junction Park and Plaza. They include TIF districts in the Grand Junction area, Eagletown, Mainstreet and East Side. For maps of the TIF district boundaries and the businesses included within them, visit http://gateway.ifionline.org/TIFviewer/
The $35 million would fund the entire project – everything from landscaping and playground equipment to construction of the amphitheater, ice skating rink, trailhead and more. The $35 million also accounts for issuance and interest costs, which amount to $4 million.
During plaza construction, the 60 current parking spots between Union and Mill streets will be eliminated. More than 270 new parking spots will be created at the west end of Park Street.
If council approves the funding, construction could start as early as this summer. With a summer 2019 start date, the project could be complete by summer 2021.
The Grand Junction Park and Plaza proposal has been in the works for 10 years. The city claims several restaurants such as Chiba, Field Brewing, Grand Junction Brewing, Rail and others have flocked to the area because of the anticipated development.
“The Grand Junction Plaza is critical to the vibrancy of downtown Westfield,” Westfield Mayor Andy Cook stated. “As we look at the city’s future, we know it is essential that we have a ‘heart of the city.’ Grand Park is the centerpiece of the development on the west side of Westfield. The Grand Junction Plaza will be that place where people can connect. It will anchor the east side allowing for a balanced approach to development. The Grand Junction Plaza will be a one-of-a-kind space that will attract people from far and wide a will give our citizen’s a sense of pride.”