A committee to explore ways to pay for Kirkland’s parks and future parks needs -- including a possible 2012 ballot measure -- is being formed by the city of Kirkland.
The has absorbed serious cuts over the past two budget periods, and several pending issues will likely be contingent on funding. So the City Council wants to form a group of 30-40 citizens representing various interests to advise it on ways to approach funding needs.
Tentatively called the Kirkland Park Funding Exploratory Committee, it will include two or three council members, neighborhood representatives and those from sports, conservation, school and business groups.
“They’ve looked at the last time we had a park bond ballot measure in 2002 and the needs in our capital improvement program, parks maintenance needs, and also at our new neighborhoods,” said Michael Cogle, interim deputy director of parks. “One of the tasks the city would like the committee to explore is a potential ballot measure in 2012 or 2013.”
Voters approved by more than 64 percent two measures in 2002, an $8.4 million capital bond and a maintenance levy of 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The committee members will be selected at the City Council’s July 19 meeting.
“The council has a vision that this group will take a look at a number of funding opportunities,” Mayor Joan McBride said Thursday. “First they’ll look at what we need: capital needs, maintenance needs, maybe indoor recreation, maybe acquisition of places like Totem Lake. What has served us well in the past is when a citizen group looks at the issue, gets educated about it and then advises us.”
Other major issues the committee will explore:
- A new community center with space for active indoor recreation, perhaps including a pool. “It would be a truly significant investment to do something like that,” acknowledged Cogle, adding that a few years ago a feasibility study identified a need for such a facility.
- The “,” the abandoned railroad that runs north/south through Kirkland. The council has already adopted as a goal somehow preserving it as a transportation corridor, initially as a pedestrian and bicycle path.
- Continued funding for the Green Kirkland program, a cooperative effort that is working to remove invasive plants and restore native habitats to the city’s parks.
- Preserving the historic building, built in the 1930s by the federal Works Progress Administration and now privately owned. There has been talk in the past of acquiring it for community use, perhaps as a museum.
- Parks needs in the newly annexed northern neighborhoods, including the future of the Finn Hill Parks District, which now manages and is funded by a local property tax levy.
- Potential acquisition of actual Totem Lake, now managed by the , as a city park or open space.
Mayor McBride said the time is right to explore the future of the city’s parks.
“I ran into one of my high school teachers the other day, and what did he want to talk about? Parks, and how he and is neighbors are trying to keep their local park clean, and concerns he has for our larger parks,” McBride said. “And as we consider our bigger and better Kirkland, this is a very good time to look at the issue.”
For more information, you can contact Cogle at email@example.com / 425‐587‐3310 or Jennifer Schroder, parks director, firstname.lastname@example.org / 425‐587‐3301.