King County parks levy could go before voters in August

King County Executive Dow Constantine, acting upon the recommendations of a citizens panel, sent a proposal earlier this week to the King County Council for a six-year, $360 million parks levy that would go before voters in this year's August primary.

According to the county, the levy would mean the 39 King County cities would see approximately $4.2 million a year to take care of parks and trail systems at the local level.

The new levy would replace two expiring levies, and, according to Constantine, ensure the health and public's access to King County parks for years to come.

"This measure is essential to taking care of the extraordinary network of parks and trails our parents and grandparents have left us, and keeping them clean, safe and open," Constantine said. "Preserving our last, best places has been a priority for this region for several decades. This measure would help us protect areas nearly the size of Discovery Park (in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood) every year for the next six years."

According to the county, the proposed levy would mean homeowners of a home valued at $340,000 would pay $64 a year for the six-year life of the levy.

If approved by the voters, the measure would fund "maintenance and operation of King County's 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, and 26,000 acres of open space."

Along with that, the levy would:

• Acquire or protect about 450 acres of critical open space per year, approximately 2,700 acres over the six years, for continued protection of local habitats

• Fund planning and design work for two trail systems in East and South King County, which would ultimately add 20 new miles of trail to the overall system

• Repair or replace 14 bridges/trestles on existing trail systems

• Complete missing links in the trail system, and solidify connections to transit and civic hubs

• Develop trailheads and parking lots to improve public access to up to 8,400 acres of existing parks, and 140 miles of trails

"The Parks Division has done an excellent job navigating these difficult economic times, and it was clear to task force members that now is the time to make repairs and improvements that have been delayed," said Louise Miller, co-chair of the King County Parks Levy Task Force.

The move comes as the county park system gears up to celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. The King County Council will decide whether to place the replacement measure on the ballot, and when.


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