Park bond awaits public decision

October 15, 2013

By Peter Clark

A $10 million bond to fund parks and recreation improvements is before city voters in the November election.

The proposed bond follows an intensive citizen process, which brought together a public commission to lead a public hearing and then offer recommendations to the Parks Board, which in turn led to City Council approval in July.

As it comes to voters when the ballots are mailed Oct. 16, the proposition clearly outlines how the money will be used.

“If approved, this proposition would authorize the city to improve its parks and recreation system, such as renovating Julius Boehm Pool; improving Central Park, Tibbetts Valley Park, Meerwood Park and Gibson Park; and preserving open space to protect creeks, natural areas and wildlife habitat,” it reads. “It would authorize issuance of no more than $10,000,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within 20 years to be repaid by the annual levy of excess property taxes.”

The Park Bond Commission looked at a number of different uses for the bond and ultimately decided that half should be spent on large improvements to the public pool.

“The priorities from the phone survey that was conducted last summer was very high on protecting wildlife habitat, preserving open space and acquiring land near lakes and streams,” Park Board Chairwoman Danielle Githam said. “And that was still a pretty high priority, but not so much in our public meeting. The primary things that came out there were the needs to repair the Julius Boehm Pool and to improve sports fields.”

The bond issues voters have approved to finance city services and improvement currently cost taxpayers 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Should voters approve the park bond recommendation, it would raise the rate by about 10 cents, to 18 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, city Finance Director Diane Marcotte said. The rate would rise from $32 per year to $72 per year on a $400,000 home for the 20-year life span of the bond.

The measure received 6-1 council support. Glowing words greeted the intense public process, which led to its inclusion on the November ballot.

“You can see we’ve gone through quite a process getting to tonight’s hopeful vote,” Councilwoman Eileen Barber said in July. “The idea to delay this any longer is not something I would like to see happen.”

Councilman Paul Winterstein was enthused by the convergence of opinions that grew out of public polling.

“It’s amazing the meeting of the minds who all want the same things,” he said.

The one dissenting voice on the council came from Councilman Joshua Schaer, who said he believed the measure did not go far enough to improve the community’s recreational offerings. He said the city should strive to invest in larger projects.


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2 Responses to “Park bond awaits public decision”

  1. bryan weinstein on October 16th, 2013 7:36 am

    same m.o. as the last parks bond, issaquah; general obligation bonds – they can use the money for anything – which they did, then got grants to pay for the previous parks bond “improvements”. we’re still paying the bonds when most of the money came from elsewhere which means we pay the interest to wall street for use of nothing more than a working capital loan. the city has more than enough money to pay for $10m and enough left over for that “rainy day fund” they are so anxious to exploit. a complete lack of fiscal discipline, but plenty of fiscal shenanigans.

  2. Dave on October 16th, 2013 10:17 pm

    The Park Board is proving itself irrelevant and dysfunctional – witness the fact that the skateboard park never made it to their list of things to be funded by the park bond, yet just weeks later a public outcry led to the City magically finding $300K (or there-abouts to fund one)

    Why throw good money after bad at Boehm Pool. We are a city of >30, 000 people, (soon to be almost 50,000?) yet we don’t have the imagination to build a pool that the citizens need and instead would rather band-aid the old one !

    As for Central Park – why tear up the sole remaining open space (that has $200-k-$400Jk of Greenshield drainage improvements invested in it from only 3 or 4 years back) to provide artificial turf that many of the folks in Issaquah will not be able to enjoy. Where was the imagination here that, for instance, could have seen the City go into partnership with the school district who are already building artificial turf fields in the district.

    So many lost opportunities.

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