Opinion

Park districts an interesting idea

The idea of creating park districts in King County is not new. In fact, it have been thrown around a few times here in the Valley, as well. But as the county looks for ways to reduce its spending shortfall - Yep, it's spending more than it's making - the idea of Snoqualmie Valley supporting a King County park district seems a bit presumptuous. And with park closures the question always comes up: Will Si View be saved?

Well I hope the county can count on this: If Si View closes, Snoqualmie Valley could not in its best interest support the creation of a county park district. What makes me nervous about the idea of a county park district is that controlling the spending on any park in our area isn't done at the local level. And in the case of the Upper Valley, the only park in county control is Si View.

The nice thing about a park district is that it should give us the ability to vote on any taxes associated with it. Of course in the current climate of spending, the one common message I hear is, "No more taxes." (That is coming from residents, not politicians.) So I am not too confident that any tax program to support parks would fly with the voters.

But maybe it is time to revisit the idea of a Valley park taxing district. Maybe the county should help municipalities and local areas develop their own park services with taxing districts. That way, the local sentiment is directly reflected at the polls, and residents either decide to support, or not support, the parks they directly use.

Of course, if we created our own park district, we wouldn't want to be included in a countywide park district and be required to pay two park-district taxes.

The point is, let's see how creative the county can be and how willing it is to assist local municipalities in keeping their options open. Has the idea of local park taxing districts really been looked at? Would cities such as Snoqualmie and North Bend be willing to take on more park operations if they knew they had a taxing district to support their efforts?

Would Valley voters be willing to pay for parks in the Valley? Or a bigger question, does anyone really care?

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