Though Mayor Nickels has publicly expressed opposition to sending a new parks levy to Seattle voters before 2010, a majority of City Council members just voted to ask you to vote on the Parks and Green Spaces Levy this November, which is when the current Pro Parks Levy expires – a unanimous vote by all 7 councilmembers (with Sally Clark and Richard McIver absent). The current version, which has undergone a tweak here and a tweak there since the Citizens’ Advisory Committee approved it a few weeks back, totals $145 million over six years, which reportedly will cost the average homeowner about $70 a year. “The reason we’re doing this is is that parks are the affordable place to go in renewing our spirits,” said Council President Richard Conlin. West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Parks Committee, thanked the many people who took the time to attend public hearings and offer comments, saying, “It’s been a very good public process,” even if it didn’t “take as long as the usual Seattle process” and, in looking ahead to what a new park levy might accomplish, reflected on the excitement that surrounds the opening of a new park – just nine days ago, he was at the dedication of Ercolini Park west of The Junction (below left, with Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher):
Back to the pre-vote speeches: “This is a very deliberative process we’ve gone through (with public hearings and a citizens’ advisory committee),” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “Some of the greatest public works projects in our country have been done during tough economic times.” Councilmember Nick Licata said, “There’s been some criticism our citizens have become overburdened with levies … (but) this was not created by council alone.” Councilmember Jean Godden said, “Everybody cares about parks … parks touch everyone.” Councilmember Jan Drago said, “I have reservations about placing this on the ballot … because of (a) lack of prioritization, I believe we will have three competing ballot issues,” but she added, “I have decided to let the voters decide.” Councilmember Bruce Harrell said he has “faith” voters will make the right decision after “scrutinizing” everything on the ballot. The council already approved the mayor’s proposal to put a Pike Place Market renovation-money levy on the same ballot, November 4th; the other one to which Drago referred is a likely Sound Transit levy. The mayor could veto the levy, but only six councilmembers’ votes would be needed to override (and as we mentioned, seven voted “yes” today).