County parks director explains need for tax levy

June 30, 2013

By Ari Cetron

New: June 30, 2:04 p.m.

King County’s parks director came to talk about a parks levy that will appear on the August ballot, but the City Council had other questions for him at their June 17 meeting.

Kevin Brown, director of the county parks system, explained that the current parks levy of 13.4 cents per $1,000 of assessed value is set to expire at the end of the year. (Technically, its two levies which are 6.7 cents each.)

The existing levy funds purchase of open space. It also funds maintaining and operating county parks facilities, such as Marymoor Park, the East Lake Sammamish Trail, Soaring Eagle Park and the King County Aquatic Center, among others.

The proposed new levy will be for 18.77 cents per $1,000. It will continue to fund the same sorts of projects, but would also provide money for new regional amenities, such as planning and designing the Eastside Rail Corridor Trail — a Renton to Woodinville trail along an old freight rail line.

Some more local to Sammamish projects could also be completed.

“With this levy, we’ll be able to finish the East Lake Sammamish Trail,” Brown said.

The City Council didn’t question the levy, as much as other parks-related projects.

Councilwoman Nancy Whitten asked if the parks department is doing anything to make trails safer for walkers. She related experiences with mountain bikers racing down the trails and frightening people.

Brown said that they’ve been working with mountain bike groups, which often would rather self-police such issues than have the county step in.

“They’re willing to take a lead role in helping to curtail that,” Brown said.

Councilman Don Gerend asked about additional parking at Duthie Hill Park. The mountain biking park has a small lot and park goers often overflow onto nearby streets, upsetting residents.

Brown said that they have secured property for an expanded lot and funded its construction. He expects construction to begin next year.

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One Response to “County parks director explains need for tax levy”

  1. Michael Sullivan on July 2nd, 2013 10:56 am

    I can’t help but chuckle when I read articles where government officials tout the East Lake Sammamish trail.

    The Issaquah improvements, which paved a segment of 2.2 miles, cost $2.74 million. That’s over one million dollars per mile of trail. The Redmond segment cost $1.86 million for a parking lot and 1.2 miles of trail.

    I think it is worth reminding people that this used to be a heavy rail corridor. Could you imagine how convenient it would have been to have this developed as a commuter rail line instead of a trail? I for one would love to blow by the traffic mess at 520/202 every afternoon using a rail line. A mess, by the way, that the City of Redmond has no incentive to fix, and the City of Sammamish can’t fix.

    Instead we are left with a trail that bikers don’t use (which motorists on ELSP’s narrow lanes in Issaquah just north of Costco love them for) and that cost millions of dollars per mile to purchase and improve. And yet government wants more and more money to fund ridiculous projects like this. I, for one, say no more.

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