Park district would save Si View

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NORTH BEND - A task force charged with keeping Si View Park, its community center and pool afloat has recommended that North Bend form a metropolitan park district to take over the 10.7-acre complex from King County.

City Council members were expected to vote on the task force's recommendation at their regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 15, after the Valley Record went to press. If approved, a February vote would be required to establish the Si View Metropolitan Park District (MPD).

It will be a tough sell to the City Council. The recommendation hinges upon King County contributing $244,000 in capital improvements to the 64-year-old community center and pool, including about $110,000 in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades.

But county officials say they can only pledge $53,000 in "mothball" costs and another $50,000 for 2003 and 2004 to Si View. The county is in negotiations with nine other cities to divest itself of pools - part of an effort to plug an expected $52 million budget shortfall next year.

The Parks and Recreation Division, which maintains the Si View Community Center, pool and surrounding park, was hit especially hard by budget reductions. County Executive Ron Sims has proposed the division's budget be slashed from $25 million this year to $10 million in 2003.

The task force, organized this summer by Mayor Joan Simpson, has sought for ways to keep Si View open without making it a financial burden on the city. According to an Aug. 28 report by the county, it would cost $322,000 to run Si View at its usual level of service in 2003.

North Bend is making its own tough economic choices, and since only 18 percent of Si View users hail from within city limits, shouldering the costs by itself doesn't make sense, officials said.

"We just don't feel that would be the right move for the citizens," said City Administrator George Martinez.

For the complete story, pick up a copy of this weeks Valley Record

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