Redmond's Marymoor Park
Redmond's Marymoor Park, seen from the air (Yes for King County Parks campaign)

We all ben­e­fit from our pub­lic parks and trails in Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Coun­ty, whether that’s by hik­ing in the Cas­cade foothills, bring­ing our kids to play sports at pub­lic ball­fields, or cycling on our many pub­lic trails.

King Coun­ty man­ages two hun­dred parks, one hun­dred and sev­en­ty-five miles of trail, and 28,000 acres of open space. While a coun­ty with many urban res­i­dents, King Coun­ty must man­age both green spaces with­in urban growth bound­aries and larg­er, rur­al parks in the east­ern areas of the county.

Thanks to King Coun­ty vot­ers, local parks, trails, and open spaces will con­tin­ue to be ful­ly main­tained and upgrad­ed dur­ing 2020–2025.

As of the end of the day Wednes­day, Propo­si­tion 1 (the Parks, Recre­ation, Trails, and Open Spaces Levy) is pass­ing with 68.32% of the vote.

Around two-thirds of the antic­i­pat­ed votes expect­ed to be cast have been tallied.

This levy will raise $810 mil­lion over its six years, or an aver­age of $135 mil­lion per year. This rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant boost to parks fund­ing com­pared to the expir­ing 2014–19 levy, which gen­er­at­ed around $66 mil­lion per year.

Redmond's Marymoor Park
Red­mond’s Mary­moor Park, seen from the air (Yes for King Coun­ty Parks campaign)

Of that $810 mil­lion, 39% will be used to main­tain parks and trails; 24% used to make open spaces more equi­table through com­mu­ni­ty and city part­ner­ships as well as grants; and 20% used to improve region­al trails, such as the recent­ly-launched East­side Rail Cor­ri­dor (Eas­trail) project.

Remain­ing funds will be used to acquire new space to meet expand­ing pub­lic recre­ation demand. Quite a lot of ben­e­fit for a levy with a mod­est cost!

There are spe­cif­ic projects for which fund­ing from this levy has been ear­marked. The East Lake Sam­mamish Trail, Green Riv­er Trail, Interur­ban South, and Burke-Gilman trails will all receive ser­vice improvements.

Park­ing will be improved at three pop­u­lar trail­heads: Rat­tlesnake Moun­tain (North Bend), Lit­tle Lake (Enum­claw), and the Island Cen­ter For­est (Vashon Island).

Suc­cess­ful endan­gered species con­ser­va­tion and out­reach to under-served com­mu­ni­ties pro­grams at the Wood­land Park Zoo will receive fund­ing from this mea­sure, as will improve­ments at the Seat­tle Aquar­i­um’s Ocean Pavil­ion.

Eight per­cent of levy rev­enue will be grant­ed to cities and towns to use for city-man­aged pub­lic spaces as well.

In King Coun­ty, the main­te­nance and improve­ment of these crit­i­cal pub­lic ser­vices is fund­ed by bal­lot propo­si­tions every six years.

With the cur­rent levy expir­ing at the end of 2019, the Met­ro­pol­i­tan King Coun­ty Coun­cil passed Ordi­nance 18890 this April, autho­riz­ing vot­ers to decide on these improve­ments this August. Spon­sors of the ordi­nance were Coun­cilmem­bers Bal­duc­ci, von Reich­bauer, Kohl-Welles, McDer­mott, and Dembowski.

These types of parks levies were first put to vot­ers in 2003; you can see infor­ma­tion about past levies here.

Kudos to King Coun­ty vot­ers for approv­ing a pro­gres­sive parks mea­sure that will keep our cit­i­zens healthy and hap­py for years to come!

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