Friday, June 20, 2008

Green Space Levy Should Go Toward Green Space

The Jefferson Park Alliance is asking for our help. A City Council committee is working to put a parks and green spaces levy on the ballot in the fall. Unfortunately, even if the levy ends up on the ballot, Jefferson Park and other Southeast parks will still get the shaft unless we can help shape the levy now.

The money currently earmarked for Jefferson Park would barely cover the increased cost of expenses that were already approved in the Pro Parks Levy. In other words, in this $120 million levy, Jefferson Park gets nothing new. However, almost one-tenth of the entire levy would go to building (not green space) upgrades at the Asian Art Museum, including air conditioning. I mean, that's all well and good that the Seattle Art Museum's visitors and collection should be kept cooler, except why should the funding come out of a green space levy, when there's such little money for green space as it is?

Read more about the levy here.

Anyway, the Jefferson Park Alliance is asking that you read the letter below and e-mail parksandgreenspaceslevy@seattle.gov BEFORE TUESDAY, JUNE 24th.

You can contact the Jefferson Park Alliance at JPAlliance@hotmail.com with questions, or post them here.

Hi Neighbors

I am an advocate for the green levy being put together under Council auspices through a 22-member volunteer committee. I am advocating that $3.6 million more be added for Jefferson Park on there (total of $7.6 million), and another $1.8 for other SE Seattle projects that aren't on the list yet. I got really excited about the levy by going to the Great City event at the downtown library earlier this year.

After sitting through the most recent meeting (Tuesday the 17th) I feel totally discouraged. The biggest project on the proposed levy list is to add air conditioning and seismic upgrades to the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. The building is owned by Parks and operated by SAM. This project is currently targeted for $11 million, 9% of the total levy of $120 mil. Meantime, literally dozens of smaller parks projects that acquire and develop green space are being bumped off.

I really think that green space advocates need to cry "foul". I am sure SAM needs to get this work done somehow but I totally disagree with using our tiny open space levy for building projects. Air conditioning may be important for art, but there is nothing green about it.

Anyway, I am looking around for other sources of money for museum at the State and Federal level so we can spend our open space and parks money on things that will grow green.

Please write to your colleagues who are concerned about greening Seattle and ask them to request that this project come off the green levy and receive funding from a more appropriate source so we can get the parks projects built. The community center levy proposed for 2010 would be the right spot.

Write today! The last meeting of the committee is next Tuesday so your voice is important right now. Here is the levy committee e-mail:

parksandgreenspaceslevy@seattle.gov

Frederica Merrell
Jefferson Park Alliance

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm voting against this levy, unless it's changed. As it is now, four more parks are slated for artificial turf over crumb rubber, the same brand of artificial turf in the New Jersey fields recently closed due to lead levels. This stuff is not safe.

The City Council is trying to rush the process of getting this levy on the ballot, with insufficient time allowed for comments. They said they announced public meetings on the Seattle Parks Department web site, and on "mailing lists". Well, I never saw the announcments. They need to do a mailing to everyone in the city, and other print advertising of the meetings. The Process Audit done by the City Auditor's Offfice spoke to the problem Parks has of not obtaining any meaningful public comment. But nothing has changed at Parks.

It's wrong and bogus to tie obtaining green space for Seattle to some of the projects they recommended in this levy: air conditioning, artificial fields, renovating buildings. They also propose to use the funds for maintainence. Maintainence should come out of the regular budget, not special levies.

This is not a green space levy and we shouldn't be tricked into voting for it. -- Pat D.

Wayne Rennick said...

Where in the general fund is there money for maintenance? ( http://www.seattle.gov/council/budget/graphs.htm )

I think a better model is to have an operations and maintenance levy in perpetuity that is specifically for operations and maintenance for specific park sites. Bellevue has done this in the past; they paired an operations and maintenance levy with a bond issue. The bond was to purchase property and build facilities, while the levy was money that would be used to maintain these new sites and was dedicated to this use, so elected officials couldn’t move the money to something else.

Seattle has a great parks system. I just think that more money should be focused on maintaining what we have, before we purchase much more.