The Metropolitan Parks District proposal on the ballot in November could raise more than $4.25 million dollars annually from new property taxes for new parks for Olympia. This might be a good idea if we knew where the money was going to be spent – but we don’t.
Residents deserve knowing what the priorities are, what kinds of parks are planned; the distribution of these throughout the city; and the cost not just for purchase but also for development and maintenance. These questions should be answered in a parks plan and priorities and costs identified in the capital facilities plan as required by state law.
The current language in Olympia’s documents is sufficiently vague to justify just about any purchase imaginable.
If ultimately a Metropolitan Parks District is wanted, voters should have a lot more clarity about how decisions about spending priorities will be made, who will make them, and how parks priorities for all areas of the city will be met. And we should have an official opportunity to comment on specific projects before any official action is taken.
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And by the way, if a Metropolitan Parks District is to be formed, it should really be a regional district if we are truly interested in using funds as efficiently as possible to meet the full range of regional parks and open space needs.