I just received an e-mail from the executive director of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center. This would serve as a great opportunity to show the public’s concern regarding the need for expansion of green space throughout our region. Both Birmingham Weekly and The Birmingham News have recently dedicated their cover stories to recent efforts to secure funding for three large public green spaces: the proposed Red Mountain Park for the west side of Jefferson County, The proposed Railroad Reservation Park for Birmingham’s City Center and an expansion of Ruffner Mountain Nature Center. Yesterday’s News also included an editorial suggesting that the public do what was needed to support funding for these efforts to become a reality. (Park land for sale, The Birmingham News 5.22.2006)
Public hearings regarding current recommendations for the city’s annual fiscal year budget are being held tomorrow evening (Wednesday, May 24) beginning at 5:30 p.m. in City Council chambers (on the 3rd floor of Birmingham City Hall). Ruffner Mountain has requested $125,000 for this fiscal year; the city has stated that it will recommend funding at approximately $70,500. The nature center used to receive $100,000; it has been operating at the reduced amount since 2002, resulting in a reduction of staff and potential programs that would be available to people of all ages throughout the region.
A previous post focuses on my thoughts about Ruffner, some that I know are shared throughout the region by transplants and those fortunate enough to know of its existence and its value to the community. The center’s executive director has asked that staff and members of the center’s Board (of which I am a member) make every effort to attend the hearing process tomorrow evening. I am not sure that I can suggest attending the meeting, as we are not sure when the item will be called. However, it would be great for some of you to write a letter to the mayor’s office asking for an increase in funding. The center is in the process of constructing a new facility using federal funds and an expansion of staff will become necessary to continue the work of stewardship of Ruffner.
If you can, please come out and be seen when Kathy asks for those in attendance at the meeting supporting increased funding to stand and be recognized. If you cannot, I would ask that you write your city councilor and the mayor and voice your support, either electronically or via U.S. Mail. You will find the appropriate contact information at the city’s website:
Click on the Mayor’s Office or City Council tabs at the top of the page and follow the links to secure the contact information necessary.
If you have not had the pleasure to visit our local nature center, go ahead and take a trip out there. It’s a great place to escape from the “real world” for a while.
P.S. Come out tonight and see how you can help get the word out about this and other greenspaces issues at the Catalyst event I posted about earlier today.