10:07 AM: This August, you’ll be asked to approve a six-year replacement for the expiring King County Parks Levy. County Executive Dow Constantine is officially announcing it at an event under way right now at Steve Cox Memorial Park in White Center; we’re there and will add video and event details later. Here, for starters, is the news release:
Executive Dow Constantine today announced his proposal to renew the current King County Parks Levy, scheduled to expire at the end of the year. His proposal for the August ballot would generate an estimated $738 million over the next six years to expand and connect regional trails, improve access to green space and recreation, and keep the county’s parks and trails clean, safe, and open.
The current King County Parks levy – which voters approved in 2013 – will expire Dec. 31. On Feb. 21, Executive Constantine sent to the King County Council a proposal that will expand and improve access to the county’s 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, and 28,000 acres of open space.
“This proposal isn’t just about access to parks and recreation – although that is plenty. It is about a generational investment in our environment,” said Executive Constantine. “The levy is entirely consistent with my priorities to restore and protect our rivers, forests, and farms, while also doing our part to tackle climate pollution. Voters have approved the Parks Levy three times since 2003. No matter how much things grow and change around here, our values stay the same, guiding us to support investments that make stronger, healthier, and happier communities.”
Highlights of Executive Constantine’s plan include:
Building and designing regional trails, including missing links and crossings over rivers and highways
Improving trailheads by adding parking and signage
Repairing trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding
Replacing 11 ballfields
Rehabilitating play area equipment in six parks
Maintaining park infrastructure, such as pathways, roofs, fencing, and electrical systems
The levy would cost 16.82 cents per $1000 of assessed property value, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $500,000 about $7 per month.
About 80 percent of King County Parks’ operational budget is funded by levy.
Under Executive Constantine’s proposal, about $60 million would be allocated to King County cities to support local parks and recreation; an additional $35 million would go for grants to cities to protect and acquire open space. It would provide Woodland Park Zoo with $36 million for conservation and environmental education programs for under-served youth. It would also provide $8 million to the Seattle Aquarium for construction of their new Ocean Pavilion.
Executive Constantine’s proposal would also provide continued funding for the Community Partnerships and Grants Program, which, over its 15-year existence, has created dozens of public amenities across King County with partners that contribute the necessary additional capital, in-kind resources, and volunteer time to develop new or enhanced facilities.
About $1 million per year would go toward equity-focused grants to increase access to and use of recreation facilities in communities that are currently underserved or face other barriers. …
11:11 AM: The half-hour event (clips added above) also included this area’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott as well as other speakers including King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks director Christie True. While no White Center/West Seattle-specific projects were mentioned, it was noted that the current levy funded improvements at Steve Cox Park including the field that served as the event’s backdrop.