Do crime, you'll do park time

A new King County proposal could help keep parks open and punish bad drivers at the same time.

Members of the County Council are considering a proposal that would put minor driving offenders to work maintaining county parks.

Budget woes forced the county to close 44 parks during the winter; 20 will remain closed all year. More than 20 parks employees were laid off.

Councilwoman Jane Hague introduced the proposal March 14 as a way to maintain parks and to punish misdemeanants who, for example, drive without licenses or fail to appear in court.

She said there are hundreds of people with minor driving offenses who are backlogged in the county’s courts and jails when they could be providing maintenance work for parks.

Councilman Pete Von Reichbauer, who represents Federal Way, said he prefers that existing parks supervisors monitor misdemeanants rather than diverting law enforcement personnel from their regular tasks.

The council hasn’t determined whether misdemeanants would provide parks maintenance in their areas of residence or if hey might be sent to any county park, though Von Reichbauer said they only would maintain county parks, not city parks.

There are four county parks near Federal Way — Five Mile Park, Camelot Park and parks by Lake Geneva and Lake Dolloff. Camelot was tapped for closure this year as part of the county’s parks budget cuts.

Von Reichbauer said he supports the parks-work-as-punishment idea as long as it doesn’t put dangerous people in the parks.

“The basis of my support will be on how we protect neighborhoods and people who use parks in neighborhoods,” he said. “We don’t want any parent to feel unsafe.”

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and

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