Council expected to support Parks Bond

The Tacoma City Council is expected to pass a resolution that would support a bond measure that park supporters plan...

The Tacoma City Council is expected to pass a resolution that would support a bond measure that park supporters plan to present to voters Nov. 8, according to discussion during the city’s Sept. 14 environment and public works committee meeting.

If the $84.3 million bond measure is approved by voters, Metro Parks will spend that money on capital construction and renovation of 61 parks, playfields, community centers, lakes, creeks, trails, and natural preserves.

“Our parks are a wonderful legacy given to us from past generations,” said Dawn Lucien, co-chair of the Bond Citizens Advisory Committee, which has made recommendations on the bond’s scope and dollar-amount to the Board of Park Commissioners. “Our shrinking revenue base does not allow us to keep up with maintenance and improvements. We need to save the parks for posterity.”

According to Lucien, the committee identified $200 million in improvements to Tacoma parks, but “pared down” the list and costs to $84.3 million. On July 18, the park board unanimously approved placing the bond on the ballot this fall.

The measure will require a supermajority (60 percent, plus one) approval in order to pass. Funds would be spent in four key areas: neighborhood parks and community centers ($56.6 million); Point Defiance Park and Ruston Way ($13 million); lakes, creeks, natural areas, and trails ($7.2 million); and debt refinancing and issuance costs ($7.45 million).

Last year, voters rejected a $60 million bond proposal for park improvements. According to Metro Parks Executive Director Jack C. Wilson, the department has learned from that experience.

“We learned what precincts did well, and what precincts did not,” Wilson said, referring to differing support for the bond in various parts of the city. “This is a more sophisticated, grassroots campaign. We didn’t have that last time. There’s a focus on understanding every district.”

The environment and public works committee made a do-pass recommendation to place a resolution supporting to the bond before the city council.

“For all these projects, $84.3 million is a modest request,” said Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma. “I’m very supportive of this. It’s consistent with what we’re trying to accomplish with the city’s strategic plan, which is the creation of a safe and healthy environment.”

Neighbors for Parks will kick off its campaign to support the bond Sept. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at Jefferson Park.

For more information, visit http://www.yesparks.com.

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