SEATTLE — A fierce debate has developed between people who usually get along: park lovers. Proposition 1 on Tuesday’s ballot would create a Seattle Park District.
In this debate, both sides love Seattle parks, but they’re going round and round on how to pay for them.
Mayor Ed Murray wants a Seattle Park District.
“This is a funding mechanism because we were losing levy capacity. This is our way of taking care of parks,” said Murray.
Others want to keep the parks levy in place.
“One of the greatest things about a levy is that they come to your community and say, what do you want?” said Don Harper with Our Parks Campaign.
A park district would tax homeowners. The amount could go as high as about $148 a year for the average home.
Critics say the district, managed by the Seattle City Council, will not be accountable.
“Accountability is lost because you lose your right to a vote. And the only thing the City Council listens to is the vote,” said Harper.
“The same quality controls are there,” said Murray. “We still have a parks board made up of citizens.”
A lot of money is needed. The parks maintenance backlog is a staggering $267 million. Ballparks, swimming pools, community centers, playgrounds all need improvements.
People are also divided on whether a park district could ever be dismantled.
“Once you vote it in you can’t vote it out,” said Harper.
“Anything that’s done can be undone,” said Murray.
The league of women voters and the Seattle Times oppose Prop 1. Mayor Murray and the City Council support it.
The future of Seattle parks will be decided in Tuesday’s election. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday.