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The 2022 midterm elections are the first of the Biden era. They're also the first since the 2020 census, which means there are new congressional districts. There are U.S. Senate races in the Carolinas as well, along with many state and local races.

Matthews voters have approved transportation, park bonds

Matthews_Downtown.jpg
Town of Matthews
Trade Street in downtown Matthews, North Carolina.

More parking and sidewalks in downtown, a finished bike loop, and a completed Purser-Hulsey Park with a new pond, amphitheater, splashpad and playground.

These are some of the projects that are now a step closer to reality after voters in Matthews approved two bonds totaling $35 million in Tuesday's election.

Both bonds passed with 57% of the vote, according to preliminary vote totals Wednesday morning. More than 12,700 people voted total.

The vote means the town can borrow the money from investors, and it means Matthews residents will likely pay higher property taxes in the coming years to pay those investors back.

The town has said property taxes will rise 3.7 cents for every $100 in valuation once all the bonds are issued, which would likely be in stages. For a $360,000 house, taxes would go up about $133 a year.

$21 million for transportation

The first bond will direct $21 million to an array of transportation projects around the Matthews.

The projects would include adding more than 100 new downtown parking spaces and improving, widening and constructing more downtown sidewalks.

Library Lane and North Freeman Street would also become one-way streets, allowing for more sidewalks and parallel parking.

The town also planned to spend the money on improving the East Charles Street railroad intersection, adding a new sidewalk along East John Street from Greylock Ridge to the I-485 outer ramp, extending Greylock Ridge Road, and building more sidewalks elsewhere around town.

$14 million for parks and recreation

A second bond will give the town $14 million to complete park and recreation projects.

That includes the completion of the 93-acre Purser-Hulsey Park on Phillips Road. The town is proposing a new playground, splashpad, amphitheater and 3-acre pond for the park.

The town also planned to use the money to complete three segments of the Matthews Downtown Loop, a multi-use path that loops the downtown core of Matthews with several connections for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The money will also likely fund new restrooms at Windsor and Rice Parks, new playgrounds at Squirrel Lake and Sardis Road Parks and other park improvements.

The bonds were opposed by two town commissioners, Gina Hoover and Mark Tofano.

Matthews Mayor John Higdon said in July the bonds would "help pay for many amenities that our citizens have let us know that they'd like to see come to fruition.

"We simply just don't have enough money in our general fund to pay for them," he said.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal