Seattle parks vote headed for summer ballot

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Well, the last one didn’t go so great — but a Seattle tax district to pay for the city’s parks and community centers will be on the August ballot following a vote Monday by the Seattle City Council. Here’s how Council member Sally Bagshaw saw things prior to Monday’s vote:

Dear Friends,

The City Council will weigh legislation this afternoon that provides stability for one of our city’s greatest resources—our parks. The ordinances before us lay groundwork for a new Seattle Park District. If approved by Council, Seattle voters will decide this August whether to create a Seattle Park District.

I will be voting yes today for the Seattle Park District. Here are some of the projects and services that could be funded if the Council votes to put this package on the ballot:

Major and Ongoing Maintenance – We could make substantial headway on a $267 million major maintenance backlog and address future needs as they arise. Expect new roofs atop buildings, fresh turf on once battered fields, worn out jungle gyms replaced with new play structures, and landscape, trail, and forest restoration across our parks. Â Facilities that need constant upkeep, like well-loved dog parks and P-Patches and our Aquarium, with its harsh salt water environment, would also receive needed attention.
Fourteen New Neighborhood Parks – We could develop and maintain 14 new parks at sites scattered from Lake City to South Park acquired with 2008 levy funding but left unimproved.
Smith Cove Park – Development and maintenance of Smith Cove Park, on the Elliott Bay waterfront, would also be funded—culminating a nearly 25-year city goal.
Safer Parks – To ensure our parks may be fully utilized by all, we would fund additional Park Rangers and Animal Control Officers and support efforts to make downtown parks safer.
Restoring Community Center Operations and Facilities – We could keep doors open longer and add staff at these neighborhood hubs, which suffered major cuts during the recession. We could also rehabilitate our aging facilities.
Recreation for All – All Seattleites deserve recreational opportunities. We would boost programming catered to youth, adults over fifty, communities of color, immigrant and refugee populations, and people with disabilities.
Get Moving Fund – Most of us could use more movement in our life, with most King County adults qualifying as overweight or obese. We would help Seattleites get on the move through targeted outreach, expanded partnerships with community groups, and increased access to athletic opportunities.
Growing Our Greenways – Greenways—residential streets that connect non-motorized travelers to parks—would be enhanced.
Arts in Parks – Seattle boasts both natural beauty and a bevy of talented residents. The “Put Arts in the Parks” initiative would enliven our neighborhood parks through arts and cultural offerings, especially in underserved and economically constrained neighborhoods.
Saving City Forests – Efforts to restore our urban forests would be boosted with more funding for forest stewardship programs, such as trail building and invasive species removal.

Thanks to everyone who has helped to shape this package, which is described in more detail on my Blog. It is stronger because of the insights of so many dedicated people.

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7 thoughts on “Seattle parks vote headed for summer ballot

  1. Didn’t we just vote for a special tax for the parks a couple years ago? Just like Metro, every 18 months is some sort of crisis we need to pay for a special election to deal with.

    • The last vote – in 2008 – was for a levy that expires this year.

      The Seattle Park District will provide sustainable funding for parks. It basically replaces the levy with a new dedicated funding source.

      After more than a year of work, a citizen committee recommended projects around the city: keep community centers open longer hours, fix pools and buildings that have fallen into disrepair (total deferred maintenance now close to $270 million), develop 14 land-banked properties, restore urban forests.

      See the details here:

      And campaign website here:

  2. It’s kind of irritating that we are being asked to approve yet another property tax because Parks’ administrators over the years failed to budget appropriately, and thus allowed the “deferred maintenance” to rise to such a high level ($270 million). To approve such a measure is to reward incompetence.

    Still, parks are important for the livability of our city, so I will probably vote for it….reluctantly.

  3. I am not super happy about this.

    The current City Council were elected under the old city-wide system. Future elections will be by district because the people voted for this change to make them more accountable. So the current members want to take over the park system by moving it outside the control of the mayor and normal city government? I say no.

    Also, if this change is to address the maintenance backlog, they should not be creating 15 new parks which will increase maintenance work in the future, unless the maintenance backlog is being fully addressed, which it isn’t.

    Let’s send this one back and make them give us a normal park maintenance levy. Or better yet, fund park maintenance out of the regular city budget, and instead have a levy when they want to fund a toy streetcar for Paul Allen, etc.

    The “no” side has some other interesting arguments:

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