Neighborhood parks and community centers make Seattle a great place to live. They are our common ground and our shared legacy. If you think of ten of your happiest moments with family and friends, the odds are several of them took place in our parks system. Whether you remember running around Greenlake or visiting the Woodland Park Zoo or the Aquarium with your kids, cooling off on a summer afternoon at Alki Beach or enjoying a soccer match or softball game at Woodland Park, you know the difference our parks have made in your life and the great value they provide to everyone in our community.
But we can’t take our parks system for granted. During the past several years our parks system has taken severe budget cuts as the combination of funding restrictions imposed by Tim Eyman’s state-wide initiatives and the recession took their toll on the city’s budget. As a result, the hours at recreation centers have been cut and fees for programs have gone up, making sports and swimming programs more difficult for low-income families and individuals to afford. Essential maintenance projects such as roof repairs and energy upgrades have had to be put off, causing a backlog of deferred maintenance projects that now total $267 million.
These cutbacks in services and maintenance have come at a time when we need our parks system more than ever. Seattle’s population is growing at the fastest rate of any city in the nation, and increasing population density means we need more green space to provide breathing room in our neighborhoods and recreational opportunities that are open and affordable to all members of our community.
Everyone agrees that the people of Seattle love our parks. The real question is how we take care of them and ensure that everyone in Seattle has access to neighborhood parks and community centers.
As our current parks levy expires, we have the power to answer these questions in August’s primary election. By voting “yes” on Proposition 1 we can create a new source of stable, sustainable funding for our neighborhood parks.
The funding will maintain our city’s parks, ensuring they are clean, safe and accessible for everyone. It will also keep our community centers open longer, reduce fees for seniors and kids and offer new recreation programs to meet the changing needs of Seattle’s growing population. And it will give us the financial resources to repair roofs, upgrade electrical systems and catch up on the $267 million backlog in major maintenance projects in parks throughout the city.
All these improvements in our parks system will cost the owner of a $400,000 home just $4 per month more than the cost of the current park levy. Proposition 1
has drawn unanimous support from the Mayor and City Council as well as former Mayors McGinn, Nickels, Schell, Rice and Royer, former County Executive Ron Sims, and a growing list of state legislators and former city council members. It is backed by a cross-section of community organizations, including such diverse groups as the King County Democrats, the Seattle Human Services Coalition, Neighborhood House, the Cascade Bicycle Club, Senior Services, El Centro de la Raza, Washington Conservation Voters, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council and the Downtown Seattle Association.
Now is our chance to create a stable and sustainable fund to preserve and enhance one of America’s greatest urban parks systems, ensure it’s accessible to all and pass it on in excellent condition to future generations. Please join the campaign and vote “yes” on Proposition 1.
To see what a “yes” vote for Proposition 1 will mean for your neighborhood, check out the campaign‘s website at SeattleParksforAll.com.