Parks Levy Funds for Neighborhoods

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Here’s your chance to let the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee know what you think of their proposed 2nd round Opportunity Fund grants. From 6 to 9 pm on Monday, April 22nd, they’ll hold a public hearing at Miller Community Center, 330 19th Ave. E.

The Levy Opportunity Fund is a $15 million fund within the 2008 $146 million 6-year Levy. The fund’s projects are proposed by neighborhood and community groups. After consideration and recommendation by the Oversight Committee, funding for these projects is approved by ordinance. The City Council approved a 1st round of Opportunity Fund projects totaling $9,758,000 in November of 2011. Their April 22nd hearing is for a 2nd round allocating up to an additional $8 million.

Pro Parks Levy check presentation, 2002.

Flo Ware Park project Pro Parks Levy check presentation, 2002.

Back in 2000, I sponsored legislation sending the City’s 2000 Pro Parks Levy to the ballot. It was an eight-year $198.2 million Levy. As chair of the Culture, Arts, and Parks Committee, I had worked with then-Mayor Schell and Department of Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds to create the citizen-based Pro-Parks Committee that proposed the measure to fund Seattle neighborhood parks, recreation and open space projects. That measure – Proposition No. 1, Parks, Green Spaces, Trails & Zoo Levy – passed with 54% approval, second only to the Monorail’s Proposition 2, which garnered a 56% yes vote.

This past January, Parks staff and the 2008 Levy Oversight Committee members heard more than forty 2nd round funding presentations.

Some of those presentations included a land purchase in South Park to build a future gateway park and connection to the Duwamish River; a Sensory Garden at Woodland Park Zoo designed for the disabled and all abilities to experience nature through imaginative, therapeutic, and educational ways; and a Northwest Native Canoe Center Carving Shed where the public is welcome to observe native carvers working on distinctive varieties of Native American culture.

Projects funded in the 1st round include the roof replacement at the Green Lake Bathhouse, home to Seattle Public Theatre; renovation of the Rainier Beach playfield play area; and renovation of the Madrona playground shelter restrooms.

The 16-member volunteer Citizen Oversight Committee advises the Parks Superintendent, the Mayor and the City Council on the Levy fund. Members serve staggered terms over the life of the current 2009-2014 levy. Members represent the community at large geographically. Half are appointed by the Mayor and half by the City Council.

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