'Field and Streams Campaign' waged by youthful athletes, parks supporters
by Wendy Walsh
A bevy of young soccer players has been out putting little blue and red signs along roadsides in hopes that voters will support the bond issue Sept. 17 that will build more playing fields for youth sports.
Since 1990, requests for team playing time in Seattle alone have increased 135%, and the trend throughout the county is similar.
The successful Open Space Bonds of 1968 and 1989 were forerunners of the present Propositions 1 and 2. In 1989, the funding initiative was for $117 million, which was increased to over $200 million in matching funds at no increased cost to taxpayers. The result was the existing number of parks, playing fields, and open space.
Recently, both the Woodinville and Redmond city councils approved resolutions endorsing the Recreation and Conservation Legacy Program as well as the Maintenance Endowment Levy, both on the Sept. 17 ballot. There have been over 90 endorsements by community groups and school districts for this measure.
The projects, developed by a poll of citizen groups and governing councils throughout the county, include: 117 ball fields acquired, built or renovated; 17 miles of trails developed or improved; 385 acres of city and regional parks purchased or expanded; 16 segments of salmon spawning streams protected or renovated in 15 jurisdictions; six projects to purchase development rights on productive King County farmland to retain food production in perpetuity; five projects to purchase development rights on forest land, providing recreation, wildlife habitat, and traditional jobs in the county's rural towns; and 37 projects to purchase thousands of acres of open space land for multiple public and wildlife uses, between rural towns and along scenic and trail corridors.
Polls of county voters show that between 66% and 75% of voters support the concepts behind the propositions.
There are some dissenters. Some contend the county has purchased enough land, expressing concern that the maintenance funds may not cover the future costs and that taxpayers will be responsible.
Proponents say the maintenance levy is necessary for installing lighting at playing fields and initial costs in land acquisitions, and that future costs are accounted for.
The average household cost will be $37.50 for one year for the maintenance levy, and $21.50 a year for the bonds.
Terry Lavender, a citizen volunteer from Woodinville, has been instrumental in identifying and developing the proposal.
"This is the 12th most populous county in the United States, yet we still have wildlife and salmon," she said. "What we want is to be sure it's here 50 years from now."