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Parks District passes, will help fund safe access to parks

Screen-Shot-2014-06-04-at-10.01.37-PMThe Parks District ballot measure Seattle Bike Blog endorsed has passed, giving the city slightly more funding for parks and some extra wiggle room for future property tax levies.

Part of the Parks District plan includes some funding to help increase safe access between neighborhoods and parks. Many neighborhoods have great parks, but they are often surrounded by busy and dangerous streets with missing or inadequate crosswalks and bike route access. If children and people with mobility issues cannot safely get from their front doors to their neighborhood park, that’s a huge shame and makes the parks less of an asset for everyone in the community.

The ballot measure also includes some funding to help put on open streets events. As we reported last week, several Seattle leaders — including City Council Parks Committee Chair and Parks District booster Sally Bagshaw — went down to Portland recently to check out their Sunday Parkways events. Bagshaw did not mince words by saying that Seattle needs to do something like them.

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The District also takes needed parks funding out of the city’s levy system, which state law limits. This could make room for a future vote on, say, a bigger transportation levy or something new like universal pre-K. Bridging the Gap expires next year, so conversations will need to begin some time soon on what the next transportation levy should look like. This is our chance to get some real funding for the Bike Master Plan and other needed road safety work.

Ugly campaigning fails

The “No” campaign fighting to stop the Parks District got surprisingly ugly leading up to the vote, but their messaging efforts sure seemed to be effective. Even the Seattle Bike Blog commenters were divided on how to vote. But unlike the “No” campaign, you all held a smart and issues-based debate about it, which is why you all are the best ever (seriously, hugs everyone).

The first real sign that the “No” camp was shifting from loudly unfactual to totally crazy came when members crashed a Parks District press event and shoved business owner Dave Meinert. But what really put things over the top was a robocall that spoofed caller ID to look like it was coming from a 911 phone number. That’s some seriously messed up (and probably illegal) stuff.

I hope this experience makes people wary to include some of the crazier “No” campaign folks on their next campaign, and to think twice about using some of these more dishonest tactics. The “No” campaign was not helpful for fostering a healthy and effective public debate, which was needed (there was very little debate about the real imperfections in the District plan).

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5 responses to “Parks District passes, will help fund safe access to parks”

  1. Ints

    Congratulations to all who voted yes.
    It is good to hear that there is some funding directed towards increasing safe access between neighborhoods and parks. The poster child for this is Magnuson Park. It would indeed be nice to see a shift from a mainly car centric access approach to a more balanced one that does a better job of providing access to the park for all users, including pedestrians, transit, and bicyclists.

  2. Mark

    Jefferson Park is a prime example of the kind of improvements we could see elsewhere in the city. It is surrounded by arterials on at least three sides but access on foot and by bike from Lafayette Avenue S. was dramatically improved after a rechannelization of S. Spokane Street and the addition of diverters, marked crosswalks, and signage as part of the Beacon Hill Greenway project. We need to “unlock” parks all over Seattle.

  3. eric fisk

    I’m very happy this passed. Think of the old levy funding model as the waterfall model of software development, and the new funding mechanism as being agile. In the old system there was a belief that all the money had to go to new, specific projects in order to help sell the levy. Those projects were written into the levy along with specific dollar amounts that were legally binding. That meant no money for maintenance, no flexibility on where to spend the money, and by the time levy projects got on track they sometimes did not make sense or have much support. Much of the land that parks bought as part of the last levy is currently fenced off because parks can’t afford to mow or maintain it. When SDOT made road changes they could not coordinate with parks, as parks had no flexibility in development. If done right, this new funding mechanism has the potential to keep parks open to feedback and improvement continuously, instead of just in brief spasms before a new levy gets voted on.

  4. intheparkwithnotrashcans

    Maybe we will see if the trash cans show back up that disappeared in the last three years. Ho ya the new flower you put in around the park sign are dying. The old plants that you took out where established for the last eight years. Is this what we are heading to? We have already signed over a large part of our rec center space to a company who sells classes. No very affordable to the low-income residence in our city. I think the they have a 10 year or more lease to do that. Well low-income people your rent is going up and you will not be able to afford any classes that takes our park space. You can ride your bike through the park knowing that the flowers get replaced every year.

  5. Sophia

    Hi blog group… I am low income and I have a bike. Does anyone know of agencies or organizations where I can buy a low cost seat for my toddler and get maintenance (tune up) for my bike. Thank you.

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