Port Ludlow parks district: Is ballot measure moot or assurance against bigger district?
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“This measure started as a way for us to escape from the creation of a metropolitan parks district that would include all of the city and county parks,” said David Armitage, who opposes the idea to create a Port Ludlow-only parks district.
“The idea of a metropolitan parks district is dead so there is no longer any reason to do this.”
Jefferson County commissioners earlier this month shelved a proposal to create an East County-wide parks district to oversee such facilities as Memorial Stadium in Port Townsend.
Two measures — separate parks districts for Port Ludlow and Kala Point — are before their respective voters in the all-mail election ending Nov. 5.
Slates of candidates for boards of either separate parks district also is before voters, although the winners of those offices will win nothing if voters strike down the ballot measures to create the districts.
“We don’t know what the county will do in the future, so it’s important for us to have this protection against them taxing us to use facilities that we already pay for,” said measure proponent Art Moyer, who is running for one of the Port Ludlow board positions.
“We don’t know if the idea of an MPD [metropolitan parks district] is dead or just sleeping.”
The MPD board voted in September to stop its planning process until it could get additional guidance from the city and the county.
Since both entities are in the budget process, they have deferred any action until at least January, when the idea of an East County parks district could be modified or canceled.
Moyer said he doesn’t trust the county to not create a metropolitan parks district and impose further taxes on Port Ludlow, which he feels should be exempt from any larger district’s boundaries due to the resort’s existing recreational infrastructure.
Armitage said he doesn’t think this represents any kind of danger to Port Ludlow, and calls supporters “paranoid” due to their lack of trust in the county and their assertion that the worst will happen.
Also at issue is the idea that a local park district will prevent a countywide district from coming into existence and imposing additional taxes.
Jefferson County Commissioner John Austin, whose district includes Port Ludlow, said any future metropolitan parks district could include or omit Port Ludlow depending on what its creators decide.
“It will not protect [Port Ludlow voters] from anything the MPD decides to do,” Austin said of the proposal for a local district.
“But I don’t think it would include Port Ludlow anyway. There aren’t many people who support an MPD in Port Ludlow, and it doesn’t make sense for an MPD to include a large number of people who oppose it within its boundaries.”
Austin said he opposed the creation of a Port Ludlow parks district because it could cost Port Ludlow more money “and will increase a level of liability for the taxpayers by creating another level of government that would be subject to lawsuits.”
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.
Last modified: October 21. 2013 6:27PM