Opinion

Island Forum | Island City Council majority supports park measures

Dan Grausz
Island Forum

When you elected us to the City Council, you told us to keep our community safe, protect our environment and maintain our infrastructure. In asking you to approve the parks bond and levy on the Nov. 4 ballot, we are doing just that.

We are asking the average homeowner to spend less than $100 each year to keep Luther Burbank Park from eroding into Lake Washington, to make our ballfields useable year-round rather than be closed for months due to rain and mud, to stop the slow death of Pioneer Park from a disease that destroys our trees, to replace unsafe playground equipment for our kids, to build trails and restore swim beaches, to create a new off-leash area for small dogs, to fix up Mary Wayte Pool, and to fund recreational programs now paid for by the school district so that it can use those monies to reduce class size.

The cost is less than $100 per year. On Mercer Island, it means preserving our parks and recreation areas for generations to come. It also means protecting the value of our homes as our parks, together with our schools, are what continue to bring new residents to the Island.

There are three common arguments against these measures that we will address:

1. With our terrible economy, this is just the wrong time. There is never a good time to raise taxes. There is also never a good time to watch our parks lose their vitality or, in the case of Luther Burbank, its shoreline. There is never a good time to tell children that they cannot practice because their field is covered with mud or water. This economy will turn around, and when it does, we will look back and congratulate ourselves for having the foresight to act now at what is truly a minimal cost spread out over many years.

2. The city has enough money already. We wish it was so. Yes, there have been surpluses in the past, but the word “surpluses” is really a misnomer. Those monies are paying for our Community Center, our 911 dispatch system, the replacement of our Lake Washington sewer line, unfunded state mandates for retired police and firefighter health care, other park improvements and road projects. Had we not had those so-called surpluses, the Council would have been asking you for tax increases years ago. Without this bond and levy, the projects will not get done and our parks will not be maintained, as there simply is not other money to pay for this.

3. This creates a “slush fund” that the Council can use for anything. The Council has firmly stated how the monies will be used. The only slush is what we will get rid of in our ballfields.

These two measures will make a huge difference to our Island, at a small price. Please vote yes on both.

Signed by Councilmembers Dan Grausz, Mayor Jim Pearman, Steve Litzow, Bruce Bassett and Mike Grady

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