No cheers for Cougar Mountain park acquisition

Cougar Mountain Instead of cheering that King County is adding another $300,000 worth of land, plus $1.14 million coming, to the insatiable maw of Cougar Mountain Park, we should be in deep mourning.
   Not only is one selected area getting the parks expenditures that should be spread over all King County, but that selected area is not even available for normal park use.
   Its 3,000-acres-and-counting should come under the open space budget because the "park" is closed to active recreation and its trails are limited to equestrians and Harvey's Hikers. Bicyclists are not permitted.
   Furthermore, why are county officials cheering that the land has been "snatched away from the clutches of development?" Under Growth Mangement's countywide planning policies, urban areas are for jobs and housing, with scattered parks and greenbelts, while rural areas are for preservation. Substituting open space for designated urban housing decreases the urban land supply and drives up the price of housing.
   Worse, the land is removed from the tax rolls, with its former tax burden shifted to the shoulders of those who still pay taxes. Instead of a couple of million dollars of annual taxes from developed housing, we're going to be paying to maintain more open space which, according to a 1995 county open space report, costs $275/acre annually.
   Meanwhile, we're short of funding for sports fields and the county intends to hit us for an affordable housing levy.

Maxine Keesling, Woodinville