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Regional parks district makes sense
The idea is coming around. When the bond failed for the community center, I wrote an editorial that said the only way it would happen is if a regional approach was taken to put it in place.
It looks as though someone on the Si View Metropolitan Park District is thinking along the same lines. It's no surprise that Snoqualmie Councilman Matt Larson thinks it's a good idea as well. I am guessing he has figured that even with the new homes coming into the Ridge, it would be tough to pass a bond to fund a community center with aquatics.
So the answer seems to be a consolidation of assets and services. Both city parks leaders will likely tell you that they do an amazing amount of work with a very limited budget.
But our local city parks serve a larger audience than just those in the cities. They are already regional parks, used by everyone in the Valley. Torguson Park in North Bend hosts a huge number of youth sporting events, as does Snoqualmie's Centennial Fields. It makes sense that we all pay for them in the form of some kind of tax and not just by continually increasing registration fees. Maybe fees could be reduced with the realization that we are paying for the facilities anyway.
But the idea of consolidation does have a down side. The Si View Metropolitan Park District has the ability to levy up to 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation at its will. Would a group of commissioners, maybe elected from a specific neighborhood, raise the rates just to get a pool? Would it be easy to find equability among areas of the Valley for improvements?
I'm not always gung-ho on a public body that has the free ability to tax such as the parks district. I think a plan would have to be put in place to put things before the voters, out of courtesy. Any increase in the taxing rate should be put to a vote of the people.
Projects should be prioritized by several groups of interested parties and the top projects put to a vote.
It's a great idea to think about the consolidation of parks in the Upper Valley, but we have to be cautious in the implementation of such a plan. It can't be just viewed as a way for Snoqualmie to get their community center.