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January 19, 1998

Front Page

City Council gets look at PRO Plan

  by Andrew Walgamott
   WOODINVILLE--The Woodinville Parks and Recreation Commission has an ambitious $32 million plan to ensure area residents have ample opportunity to recreate in the next century. It's called the Parks, Recreation and Open Space plan and it was rolled out before a joint session of the Woodinville City Council and the commission last Wednesday night . "With the PRO Plan, we want to develop Woodinville into a great place to visit, to work and to live," Commissioner Kari Powers said of the plan which the council will now review and modify. The PRO Plan identifies existing recreation facilities and proposes a number of parks, trails and open spaces to be acquired and built in the greater Woodinville area to meet community recreation needs in the next 20 years.
   The plan calls for neighborhood parks that would be connected by a network of pedestrian and bike trails from the hills to the valleys, some even leading to Snohomish and Snoqualmie Pass. It builds upon current facilities, calling for more picnic tables and shelters, a swimming beach, boat launch and fishing dock. And with all of this recreating going on in the greater Woodinville area, a 4,000 square-feet of parks maintenance facility is needed, as well as 36 permanent restrooms.
   "[The Parks and Recreation Commission] have come up with a lot of good plans, suggestions and needs. The sticky part is always the budget," Mayor Don Brocha said. Park facilities aren't cheap. The plan estimates a few costs:
   *$62,900 for an uncovered playground;
   *$50,000 for a skateboard park;
   *$53,383 for an outdoor basketball court;
   *$17,392 for a permanent restroom;
   *$7,609 for an unsheltered picnic table.
   And keep in mind, the plan calls for eight playgrounds, one skate park, four basketball courts, 128 picnic tables and 36 restrooms. Funding may come from implementing impact fees, pursuing partnerships with other jurisdictions and private entities, grants and floating a parks bond.
   Regional plan
   The plan isn't just for Woodinville, Parks Director Lane Youngblood said. It includes facilities in portions of unincorporated King and Snohomish County that are within the city's recreation service area which extends north to Maltby, east to the Paradise Lake Road and Avondale Road, south as far as 124th Ave. St and includes Kingsgate on the west. Approximately 42,000 people lived inside those boundaries in 1996. Another 13,000 are expected by the year 2003.
   The plan found that to meet regional demand for recreation facilities, an investment of $32.3 million is needed by 2003. But Youngblood points out that the city wouldn't be asked to pay for the whole plan. She hopes to forge partnerships with King and Snohomish counties, the City of Bothell and the Monroe and Northshore School Districts to provide facilities, some of which, like the South Gateway park and farming demonstration complex in the Sammamish Valley and renovations to Cottage Lake Park, are already under way and in place.
   Other PRO Plan desires like ballfields on Wellington Hills Golf Course and a rail/trail linking Woodinville with Snoqualmie Pass and Skagit County still require funding. Youngblood was upbeat about partnerships, saying there was a "huge, untapped potential" in teaming with Northshore to provide neighborhood parks.
   Paying for the plan
   The city's proposed share is $12.6 million in the next six years. Among ways to pay, money could come from collecting impact fees, a charge on new home and commercial construction. City Manager Roy Rainey said as long as there was economic growth, impact fees would be a good source of revenue. The City Council has asked that staff prepare an impact fee ordinance. But Rainey cautioned that building could slow down due to higher interest rates, or a moratorium on building similar to that imposed on the Sammamish Plateau recently.That would also affect real estate excise tax collections, another way to pay for the PRO Plan.
   A more secure source of funding would be a parks bond, a proposition that Youngblood said wasn't "on the horizon" though a $4.7 million bond is in the plan presented to the council. Consultant Tom Beckwith believes residents are interested in the proposition. "I know there's support for a bond. I know [the residents] are willing to pay that kind of money," he said. There may be basis for his statement.
   According to a telephone poll of 351 registered city voters, more than 50 percent support community parks, and valley, creekside, railway and hilltop trails. And more than 50 percent also favored passing a 20-year bond costing a $190,000 home $100 per year. Youngblood also would like to pursue grant money, and combine public works and trail projects where she can, one example being road work on N.E. 177th Pl. and a trail along Little Bear Creek. City staff will now begin prioritizing the plan. Nearly 240 acres will have to be found if it was fully implemented. Mayor Brocha said the timetable may have to be extended as well.