With 776 votes in support and 181 opposing the measure, a three-fifths majority of the people can now decide whether or not any of the city’s parks can be sold.
The issue came to light over the Ferrysburg Nature Preserve, a city-owned 43-acre parcel that many in the South Holiday Hills neighborhood use for walking and recreational purposes.
Citizens formed the Save the Parks group over concern about City Council selling the park to raise money to help fund infrastructure repairs. They launched a petition drive and gathered more than 400 signatures to put the question on the ballot. They needed only 124 signatures.
The issue became a hot button and divisive subject at many City Council meetings.
Even though Regina Sjoberg, a strong supporter of the ballot initiative, lost her mayoral bid to fellow council member Rebecca Hopp, she said she's thrilled that voters approved the charter amendment that will put the parks' decisions in their hands instead of council's.
“That's the most important thing,” Sjoberg said. “I'm really honored to have worked with the Save the Parks people. They really gave it 100 percent.”
Councilwoman Kathleen Kennedy said she's not surprised the ballot proposal passed.
“If people want a say, that's great,” she said. “I'm all about people having a say. It takes the pressure off council.”