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August 2013

King County Parks - Your Big Backyard

By NWREporter

August 2013

REALTORS® around King County will join dozens of other organizations to urge voter approval of King County Proposition 1, a levy renewal request to be decided on August 6. The measure earned the endorsement of SEATTLE KingCounty REALTORS® following a presentation at a meeting of its Governmental and Public Affairs Committee.

If approved, the Proposition would authorize funding for critical repairs, maintenance and operations, and will enable completion of missing links in the region's trail system. The levy would also allow expansion of the Community Partnership and Grant program and provide support for local city parks and the Woodland Park Zoo. Without approval, an estimated 70 percent of parks funding will be depleted by year's end.

The measure amounts to a six-year property tax levy of 18.77 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a home valued at $300,000 would pay an estimated $56 per year. The levy proposal is consistent with county's practice to end the use of General Fund monies on regional parks, trails and open spaces and on local facilities in the rural unincorporated areas.

"Like other citizens, REALTORS® and the customers and clients they serve treasure the waterways, trails, parks and open spaces that make King County such a desirable place to live and raise families," said Joan Probala, the association's president in announcing the endorsement. "We are proud to partner with dozens of other organizations in supporting the levy to preserve, protect and maintain the county's 200 parks and wildlife habitats," she added.

King County Parks is one of the largest parks systems in the county with more than 26,000 acres of parks and open space, 175 miles of regional trails and 180 miles of backcountry trails. An estimated 90 percent of King County citizens are served by the regional trail system.

Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of King County Parks, a 46-year-old family business donated $75,000 to help launch the King County Parks Foundation. Established in April, its mission is to cultivate private-sector investments to support the ongoing enhancement and stewardship of the county's parks and trails.

In announcing its $75,000 gift, Laird Norton Wealth Management officials called the parks a "hidden gem." Foundation president and CEO Robert Moser emphasized the contributions parks can make in forming strong communities. "We have an obligation to support our community, and the park system is all about values, family and building community.

Among its goals the new foundation seeks to raise $7.5 million for legacy projects. Those projects include existing destinations that are under-funded as well as the procurement of other natural wonders to serve the growing recreation needs of future generations.

King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, accompanied by Kevin Brown, director of the King County Parks, met with members of SKCR's Governmental Affairs Committee to present the case for levy endorsement.