Panel to study Jefferson parks district

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

CHIMACUM — The first meeting of a committee studying a possible proposal for a joint city-county metropolitan parks district set the stage for the process but left timing and process unresolved.

“The two terms that were most important were equality and accessibility,” Kathleen Kler, committee co-chairwoman, said of the Thursday night meeting at the Chimacum Grange.

“We want all the people in the county to have equal access to the parks, and build services that are accessible to everyone.”

All nine members of the committee attended the meeting along with city and county staff and nine members of the public.

Kler said the role of the panel is to determine what parks would be included in an proposed metropolitan park district, how it would be administered, how much it would cost and where funds would come from.

This second step toward the creation of such a district would be crafting a ballot measure and determining when it would be addressed by the public, which is not the committee’s responsibility.

The original goal was to present the proposal to voters on the November ballot, but the ability to do so is uncertain, Kler said.

“We have a lot to do,” she said. “And we should do it as quickly as possible because we need to make sure that facilities are continuously funded.

In November 2010, voters approved Proposition 1, which raised the sales tax in Jefferson County 0.03 percent to finance public safety and youth and senior services.

Under the law, the city was to receive 40 percent of the new revenue.

It committed half of that amount — estimated at $212,000 — through 2015 to support two county facilities within the city limit: the Port Townsend Community Center, a recreation center at 620 Tyler St., and Memorial Field, 550 Washington St.

The board of a joint city-county metropolitan parks district, which would be a junior taxing district, would have the authority to levy up to 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $187.50 annually for a house valued at $250,000.

Kler said it is important for the public to participate in the process and tell what park functions are essential, what they are willing to pay for and which parks should be developed and supported.

She said there are 21 county and 27 city parks that could be part of a park district, although not all of them can be subsidized.

“The public may not know how many wonderful parks they already own,” Kler said. “They should tell us which ones are important and how they want them used.”

While the boundaries are not defined there are some absolutes.

The proposed district would not include Brinnon or Coyle, as both areas have an existing park district.

While the parks to be included are yet to be determined, Kler said that Memorial Field, The Rec Center and the Port Townsend Pool, which is located at Mountain View Commons at 1925 Blaine St., would most likely be included.

Kler said the next committee meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 10 at a location to be determined.

Other members of the committee, who were chosen either for their geographical location or area of expertise are Garth McHattie of Marrowstone Island, chairman of the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board; Rich Stapf of the Quimper Peninsula, who serves on both panels; Mike Zimmerman of Marrowstone Island, a parks professional; Herb Cook, a nonprofit service provider of the Gardiner-Discovery Bay area; Mike Evans of Kala Point, who is involved in sports leagues; park facilities volunteers Doug Hubert of Port Ludlow and Susie Learned of Port Hadlock; Jeff Randall of Port Townsend, who is interested in the public pool; and Rosemary Sikes of the Audubon Society.

For more information, see http://tinyurl.com/JeffCoParksDist.

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Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 23. 2013 6:07PM
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