Who will control existing parks?

  • By admin
  • September 22, 2016
  • Comments Off on Who will control existing parks?

Uncertainty over future of existing parksThe County currently has 20 parks, comprising hundreds of acres worth millions of dollars. Will they stay with the County or be “given” to the new Metropolitan Park District?  If Prop. 1 passes taxpayers will lose, no matter what decisions are made about existing parks.

At the Commissioners’ briefing on July 18, Tim Sheldon asked the organizers of the Metropolitan Park District what would happen to existing parks. Their answer? “We were hoping the County would give them to us.” Let that sink in for a minute. Do any of the candidates have experience managing parks?

Or perhaps the County will keep their parks. In the July 19 County Commissioners Board meeting, Commissioner Neatherlin said “(Prop. 1) has nothing to do with our land. It doesn’t… We haven’t decided we’re giving anything away. There’s land that we cannot give away. People have donated lands to the county with restrictions on it. …These are things that a (MPD) if formed, will have to come and discuss with the County…”

Commissioner Jeffreys pointed out that if Prop 1 passes, the new commissioners “As of January 1st will be stewards of a levy but will have no (land) assets.” Does this mean that the new MPD might have no parks but an annual tax revenue of $1.27 million? To spend how? Talk about a blank check.

Since the County will still own and manage parks, if Prop. 1 passes Mason County will have TWO county parks authorities, with two boards, two budgets, duplicate staff and facilities, and two agendas. And both with taxing authority in the unincorporated county.

Prop. 1 creates competing park authorities. No one can tell us how this will work. Not good for taxpayers. Not a smart plan for parks.

PS – One of the Prop. 1 organizers recently slammed me for saying that Prop. 1 might turn into a “land grab.” I had asked this several weeks ago after hearing that same Prop. 1 organizer tell the County Commissioners, “We were hoping you would give (the existing parks) to us.” It sounded like a land grab in the making. The fact that the Commissioners have since shut this idea down doesn’t mean the organizers didn’t try it.

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